String orchestra:


Score and parts in preparation

Programme Notes

A shanty is a song in many verses sung by a group of sailors at work. The melody is sung many times, never the same, with a strong rhythmic pulse but not necessarily literal unanimity. 
A shanty, along with any folk song in the English-language traditions, creates depth through repetition of the melody and variation of the story.
In this Shanty fifteen individual voices, sometimes together and sometimes divergent, create a widening seascape.

In a Shanty, the cyclical verses build a story of the harsh, mechanical routine of the petty captain’s rule, and accumulate a longing for mutiny. As in a Slave Spiritual, there is an implied yearning for liberation, freedom from the false, arbitrary regime of the petty masters, and a dream of a safe harbour beyond.

Shanty is written for the musicians of the orchestras who play it.


‘A hypnotic, captivating piece in which a timeless melody drifts in and out of focus over the steady beat of persistent pizzicatos before fading into an eerie silence suggestive of vast expanses of open sea. The beauty of the string writing recalls Sibelius.’
The Guardian (Tim Ashley), 11 June 2021


Shanty – Over the Sea

St Mary's Church (Rye, East Sussex, United Kingdom)

Britten Sinfonia