Commissioned by The Schubert Ensemble with funds gratefully received from The Schubert Ensemble Trust, Spitalfields Festival New Music Commission Fund and The Steel Charitable Trust and was premiered at Spitalfields Music Festival on Monday 13th June 2016.
I am lucky to have a wonderful park just ten minutes walk from my house: I can leave home and be back within the hour having walked around a lake and under what I imagine to be vaulted roofs made only from trees. I like to walk the same path every time I go, paying attention to the many changes that can occur suddenly (such as the weather) and gradually (such as the changing colour of the leaves). Today, when much of the Earth is being polluted, fracked and deforested, it seems particularly important to really notice and respect the land, to feel a connection to it.
Two poems, entitled Thistles and Ferns (both from Wodwo) by Ted Hughes also inspired my work, and added a resonance to the thistles and ferns that I see nearly every time I walk. The Whole Earth Dances is a single, slow movement divided into five continuous parts: thistles, ferns, thistles, ferns, thistles. Hughesʼs description of the former (ʻEvery one a revengeful burst of resurrectionʼ) and the latter (ʻHere is the fernʼs frond, unfurling a gestureʼ) influence all the musical material in the work, and I have tried to imbue the piece with the sense of timelessness that I feel when walking with his poems (with their allusions to Vikings and ʻwarriors returningʼ) in my head.
The Whole Earth Dances is dedicated to the memory of my friend Becs Andrews, a fiercely talented Stage designer and Visual artist who passed away at the beginning of the year.
© Cheryl Frances-Hoad, 2016