O Sweet Spontaneous Earth - Judith Weir's new work for choir and strings

O Sweet Spontaneous Earth - Judith Weir's new work for choir and strings
Judith Weir
© Benjamin Ealovega

A new choral work by Judith Weir reflecting on our relationship with the Earth receives its world premiere on November 26.

O Sweet Spontaneous Earth has been commissioned by the Addison Singers and is dedicated to its conductor David Wordsworth who will give the first performance with the Brandenburg Sinfonia at St Peter's Church, Acton Green, London. The 12-minute suite for chorus and string orchestra, takes its title from the poem by E E Cummings, one of three American poets whose work forms the basis of the piece.

The composer writes:

Each poem is about the Earth, and our experience of living on it.

O sweet spontaneous by E E Cummings (1894-1962) talks about the Earth's persevering efforts to regenerate itself despite the depredations of its inhabitants; the movement ends with an extended anthem on the word "spring".

Peace on Earth by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) speaks of the magnificent constellations of stars shining in the sky above us while we sleep peacefully. The music borrows this contrast; energetic stars speeding through space, quietly immobile humanity beneath them.

I reason, Earth is short by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) ponders the short time we actually spend on Earth, and what happens afterwards. I borrowed the hymn-like feel of the poem to write a three-verse chorale, thoughtful in character, similar to the ending of a Bach cantata.


More works by Judith Weir for chorus and small ensemble

blue hills beyond blue hills (2019) 35 minutes
Using haikus by Scottish poet Alan Spence, Weir charts the passing of the year as observed through small changes in nature and everyday life.

In the Land of Uz 
(2017) 35 minutes
The chorus is the driving force in this miniature oratorio that tells the story of the Old Testament prophet Job.

The Big Picture (2017) 17 minutes
Written for choirs of varying ability who perform in spatialized groups, a musical celebration of colour featuring poetry from King Henry VIII to Christina Rossetti.

All the Ends of the Earth (1999) 12 minutes
Commissioned to usher in the new millennium, this re-working of Perotin’s Viderunt Omnes reflects on a thousand years of choral music by incorporating chant from the 10th century.

Storm (1997) 20 minutes
A dramatic work for children’s choir and upper-voice chorus inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Explore more music by Judith Weir


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