The Lost Words by composer James Burton takes its inspiration and text from the award-winning ‘cultural phenomenon’ and book of the same name by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris: a book that was, in turn, a creative response to the removal of everyday nature words like acorn, newt and otter from a new edition of a widely used children’s dictionary.

Both the book and Burton’s 32-minute work, which is written in 12 short movements for upper-voice choir in up to 3 voice parts (with either orchestral or piano accompaniment), celebrates each lost word with a beautiful poem or ‘spell’, magically brought to life in Burton’s music. At its heart, the work delivers a powerful message about the need to close the gap between childhood and the natural world. Burton’s piece was co-commissioned by the Hallé Concerts Society for the Hallé Children’s Choir and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The piano accompaniment version was premiered at the Tanglewood Festival in 2019 by the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir, of which Burton is founder and director. The Hallé Children’s Choir will premiere the orchestral version of the full work in Manchester, UK, post-pandemic.

Vocal Score

Co-commission by Boston Symphony and Hallé Concerts Society for their respective Children’s Choirs.Two versions – with orchestral or with piano accompaniment. The vocal score is the same for both versions.

James Burton is a composer but also a conductor. He is conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and choral director of the Boston Symphony.

The book The Lost Words, exquisitely designed, has won multiple awards and is an international best-seller. The vocal score includes Jackie Morris's beautiful imagery in its cover design.