Wych Elm

two pieces for flute, viola and harp

Mark Bowden

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two pieces for flute, viola and harp

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Composer Mark Bowden
Year of Composition 2021
Duration ca.5'
Instrumentation Flute, Viola, Harp
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-mb1we1


This short chamber piece in two movements is a reworking of two sections from Act II, Scene 2 of my opera Sea Change. The opera is set in an imagined future where most of society lives under the sea in individual pods, whilst a small group of people survive on the surface. In the part of the scene which inspired the first movement, we see Sedna — leader of the people on the land and voiced by the viola in this transcription — revealing a sapling to her protégé, Anouk. Anouk, voiced here by the flute, has never seen a tree before and asks, “what do you call it?” Sedna reveals it is a Wych Elm, the last of its kind. Later, in the duet which inspired the second movement, Anouk talks of how she heard a voice coming from the sea, she sings “and the voice heard me.” Sedna tries to persuade her it was only a dream, “there is no one else anywhere, beneath the sea, on this land; trust me.” Anouk remains unconvinced and begins to wonder if Sedna is telling the whole truth.

Wych Elm was commissioned by National Youth Arts Wales in celebration of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales’ 75th Anniversary.

The first performance was given online by members of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales on 21st October 2021.