for chamber orchestra

Mark Bowden

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for chamber orchestra

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Composer Mark Bowden
Year of Composition 2020
Duration 4' 30"

Instrumentation Chamber Orchestra
Forces Picc, Fl, Ob, CA, Cl.Bb, Bsn/Cbsn, 2Hn, 2C.Tpts, Tbn, BTbn, Tba, 2Perc, Hp, Strings (
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-mb1o1


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Commissioned and composed during various lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, this short orchestral piece is a reworking of a chaconne from Act II, Scene 2 of my opera Sea Change. The opera is set in an imagined future where people live under the sea in individual pods, communicating only via screens. In this scene, Kai and her father argue about escaping the isolation to live freely “above the waves, upon the land” as the underwater city’s infrastructure collapses around them. Kai sings of how she longs to “hear a bird sing, feel the wind against my skin… up there in the re-born earth.” Her father wishes to stay; he sings “my time is here, chosen by nature, the sea.” Time is short as their homes begin to quake and shift. Kai must choose her future.

It is strange writing an opera during the uncertainty of a global pandemic. Doubly so when the story focusses on a community isolated from each other and the outside world. It can seem clichéd to talk about ‘life imitating art’, but this idea rang true when composing during periods of lockdown and self-isolation. The desire to be in nature — to go outside — was palpable.