Autumn Chorale

Programme Note

Autumn Chorale was written in response to a commission from CoMA to write a piece exploring the climate crisis that currently threatens our existence. I was initially uncertain as to how to approach this brief, wrestling with the age-old question of how and to what extent instrumental music can be ‘about’ anything at all. I was, however, keen to make the link a tangible one, and one that was written into the notes, rather than being simply (and arbitrarily?) asserted by the title and programme note.

I decided to make this connection by separating the performers spatially. Throughout the history of Western Art Music, from the cowbells of Mahler’s 6th Symphony to the horn calls of Julian Anderson’s Imagin’d Corners, spatial effects have been used to simulate vast natural landscapes. In Autumn Chorale, four soloists are places off-stage around the concert hall, and play a variety of hunting calls to evoke the natural landscape. Onstage, the rest of the ensemble play a melancholy chorale, drawing on the religious and therefore funereal connotations of the choral genre, and mourning a world that seems to be disappearing before our eyes.

Year: 2020
Duration: 5′
Instrumentation: Open Score
Commission: Commissioned by CoMA with funds from the Performing Rights Society Foundation and subscribers to CoMA’s Commissioning and Friends of CoMA schemes.


4th December 2022
CoMA London, Matthew Hardy (conductor)
The Octagon, Queen Mary University of London