Vocal Works

1982 Even over the flat land (5’)

A setting of a poem by Jenny Joseph for soprano and piano

1990 Dreaming (3’) and Blue Grey Blues (4’)

Two songs from the album Walks Abroad [Practical Music] by Mark Lockett and Janet Sherbourne

1990 Long Poles (3’)

for voice and a gamelan instruments, text by Confucius translated by Ezra Pound 

2009 Travels in the North (11’)

For soprano and piano, based on extracts of the travel book of the same name by Karel Capek

  1. This, somehow is the end of the world
  2. As far as Nidaros
  3. The giant and the turned-to-stone virgin

2010 A Week of Lullabies (6') for voice, keyboards and kanteles

2013 Cloudcuckooland (25’) for choir SATB

Cloudcuckooland takes its title from the mythical city of birds as described by Aristophanes in The Birds, a comedy first produced in 414 B.C. A couple of middle-aged Athenians try to persuade the world’s avian population to build a great city to occupy the space between the earth and the heavens and thereby controlling the capricious gods’ meddling in human affairs, impregnating mortal women, prolonging wars, etc. One of the Athenians, Pisthetaerus, becomes their leader and is transformed into a bird-like figure, replacing Zeus as the primordial power in the cosmos.

The five movements are titled after various places mentioned in the play, in their mythical sense rather than their present-day geographical location. The piece isn’t a setting of the play but rather a contemplation of the bird-city seen from different earthly perspectives.

The texts come from various translations of The Birds, notably those by Paul Muldoon (Gallery Press 1999) and Alan Sommerstein (Aris and Phillips 1987), the original Greek text read for me by Francesca Goudousaki, as well as John Beavis’s extraordinary compendium of transliterations of bird song Aaaaaw to Zzzzzd: The Words of Birds (MIT Press 2010).

Cloudcuckooland is dedicated to the Finnish choir Aava for whom it was written.

2019 Hoichi the Earless (20’) for chamber choir SATB

A dramatic realization of a traditional Japanese horror story in which Hoichi, a blind and penniless biwa-player is bewitched by ghosts and is tricked by a phantom samurai into performing every night in a cemetery. Composed for the choir Fleur d’Espine in Carcassonne, text in Japanese and French.