Elemental Songs and Dances

for baritone, children's chorus and ensemble

Richard Bullen

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for baritone, children’s chorus and ensemble

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Composer Richard Bullen
Year of Composition 2012
Duration ca.45'
Categories (all composers) , , ,
Catalogue ID ce-rb2esd1


This community cantata requires a minimum of 100 children’s voices. From the outset I decided that the principal objective of this educational project should be to broaden the children’s understanding of what ‘music’ can be and to illustrate, in an appealing way, the expressive musical potential of different sounds. To this end, I considered which abstract sonic qualities each element might possess, and how my performers could create dense, complex textures of sound by exploring simple extended vocal techniques. By harnessing their enthusiasm and energy, while being mindful of their lack of musical training, I was able to create rough, raw masses of sound – an ‘elemental’ drama of music, words and space.

In each movement there is space for the children to create their own songs and therefore share ownership of the piece as a whole.

The performance was astonishing… over 100 primary school children speaking, singing and acting with the music while moving on the platform and all round the hall, the music itself clearly absorbing and delighting their imagination” – Spitalfields Music patron

Elemental Songs and Dances was commissioned by Spitalfields Music and Open Academy and was also nominated for a BASCA British Composer Award 2013 in the ‘Education/Community’ category.