No Man's Land


by Colin Matthews

tenor, baritone and chamber orchestra
Solo Voice, Baritone, Chamber Orchestra, Tenor
Christopher Reid - Airs & Ditties Of No Man's Land
2.2.1.bcl.2 - 2200 - perc(1): large militiary drum/hi-hat/BD with foot pedal/susp.cym/tam-t(+bow) - CD controls - upright pno/Cel - strings (minimum
Commissioned for the City of London Sinfonia on the occasion of its 40th anniversary by the Boltini (Family) Trust
First Performance
21.8.2011, BBC Proms: Ian Bostridge/Roderick Williams/City of London Sinfonia/Stephen Layton

score on sale 0-571-53756-1, parts for hire

Programme Notes
'No Man's Land' follows on from my very positive collaboration with Christopher Reid on 'Alphabicycle Order' several years ago. The origin of the work was a phone call from Richard Hickox in November 2008, full of his usual bubbly enthusiasm and proposing a Proms commission to celebrate the City of London Sinfonia's 40th birthday. Like everyone, I was shocked to learn of his sudden death 3 days later. Richard conducted my first ever Proms perfomance, in 1983, and clearly the work had to be written in his memory. I have been obsessed with the First World War for some while (my grandfather died on the Somme) but it's a difficult subject to treat musically - I've set Edmund Blunden (in my choral work 'Aftertones') but have avoided setting other war poets, particularly with the example of Britten and Wilfred Owen in mind. When I asked Christopher Reid to provide the text for this work, I suggested the concept of a soldier in the midst of war, almost unaware of what he's found himself in. In the event his sequence of poems provided something different : the ghosts of two soldiers hang on barbed wire in no man's land. 'To pass the time, we let the wind/rummage in the hollows of our skulls/for memories and scraps of song and whisps of rhyme'. The work is divided into two parts, and last approximately 25 minutes.

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