Sea and Stars

for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus and Orchestra

25 Mins


Premiered by the Ealing Choral Society and Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at the Cadogan Hall, London, conducted by Jonathan Williams on 16 June 2012. The soloists were Anna Dennis (soprano) and Matthew Brook (baritone).

Sea and Stars is envisaged as a telling/dramatisation of a simple myth-like tale. The presentation of the tale as a ‘myth’ helps to ensure simplicity and accessibility: but the story is of course about us. The tale is envisaged in four parts.

In Part 1, a tribe that once spoke to gods, but has lost the ability to hear or see them, decides to send explorers to the top of the sky and bottom of the sea in search of the meaning of their existence.

In Part 2, the explorer sent to the bottom of the seas finds an undersea vent where flames and steam rise up, a hell-like scene where life in fact began, and talks to the strange demonic creatures that live there. Their existence is one of life and death, eat or be eaten. They do not look up to see the light above, or the majesty of creation.

In Part 3, the explorer sent to the top of the skies talks to the stars. Locked in their crystalline, unchanging spheres, they sing of the perfection of creation. Yet they long to live as people do on earth, to experience love and loss, and even to die. Occasionally one breaks free from their sphere and falls to earth in a trail of delight.

In Part 4, the explorers return. The tribal elders interpret what they have seen and heard. They live on a frontier between two worlds, and are pulled towards each in equal measure. The beauty and meaning of life rests in the tension between these forces. The tribe is happy, as once again they hear the voices of gods.

Sea and Stars was conceived as a C21st creative response to the Brahms Requiem, and consequently requires the same scale of vocal and orchestral resources. The work was a collaboration with writer Simon Christmas.


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