Praise Aloud the Trees - for double orchestra, amplified chorus, sampler and two conductors in five movements.

Research output: Non-textual formComposition

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Words by Seamus Heaney. Commissioned by BBC Radio 3. Premiered Waterfront Hall, Belfast, 3 March 2012, by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra and Horizon Voices conducted by Jurjen Hempel and Fergus Sheil.

“Praise Aloud the Trees” was a collaboration with Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. Commissioned by the BBC for a landmark concert that brought the two major orchestras of Ireland (Ulster Orchestra and RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra) together for the first time to perform as one, the concert was about exploring the concept of borders. That is the central object of the research processes of the piece: its particular aleatory techniques, its use of dual conductors and conduction, the overlaid samples, and the motifs that connect orchestral and choral material are all focused on the constant challenging, blurring and questioning of boundaries.

The orchestral material takes core melodic cells and mutates them throughout. These melodic cells also form the core of the choral material. As well as aleatoric choral techniques, the performance also utilises unwritten conduction techniques developed by the composer (see fuller description and sketches in portfolio; also REF3a): these techniques are employed by conductor 2 to determine the content of the choral contribution throughout the performance.

A digital sampler is employed within the ranks of the choir, providing a series of unplanned additions to, or interventions in, the choral element. The sampler merges specially created vocal samples created by the composer from previously gathered and mutated audio footage of the choral rehearsal sessions. The result of these related combined forces is a music which, though deriving in part from decisions and gestures made by conductor 2, provocatively tests the boundaries between pro-active creative decisions and re-active responses to random, though intrinsically compatible, musical events.
Composition type: Double orchestra, amplified chorus, sampler and two conductors
Outputmediatype: Score

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