One of our favorite collaborations was the ‘organic’ cantata, Five Seasons, commissioned by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir, with funding from Respect Organics and backed by the Soil Association.. To work out how to write a ‘green’ cantata, we did residencies at five different organic farms across Britain, in Dorset, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, North Wales and Mull. We also did workshops with the choir. Our brief was ‘to celebrate the organic landscape in the 21st century’. Our experience was of generosity, rich collaboration with the farmers, shared music, the chance to roll up our sleeves to sort eggs and pull weeds, as we followed the hem of that spring northward across Britain.
The result is an exciting and innovative cantata for 34 voices and string quintet plus oboe and harp. With moments of haunting beauty, light-heartedness and occasional rage, it takes an original, refreshing look at the pastoral tradition while at the same time confronting modern environmental issues. I think I found more joy and beauty doing this project than almost any other and also wrote with more rage than anywhere else. (See my Introduction on this website, to The Balancing Dance, the book of poems using the matierial that could not be crammed into the shape of the cantata.)
The World Premiere was on 18 November, 2006 at Sherborne Abbey, Sherborne, Dorset.
Later performed at the CIA, Cardiff, for the Soil Association Annual Conference in 2007, and for the 40th Anniversay Gala Concert by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir, May 2012. Recorded 2009.