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The University of Southampton
MusicPart of Humanities

Notes to the New Government from Finnissy and Oliver

Published: 1 May 2015

On Saturday 9th May, two days after the upcoming UK general election, the London Sinfonietta will perform newly commissioned works by Southampton composers Michael Finnissy and Benjamin Oliver as part of their ‘Notes to the New Government’ project at the Southbank Centre in London.

The Sinfonietta, in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society, have commissioned two sets of new pieces in which they asked sixteen composers to consider the society before them, and the future they hope to influence and help create.

Professor Michael Finnissy’s instrumental work refers to ‘dumbed down UK’. In Michael’s words it is about a UK that is ‘so dumbed down that there are no words left anymore. Like the forbidden books in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Books? What’s a book?’. This work will appear in the 8pm concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Benjamin Oliver’s work, The National Loneliness, is a collaboration with poet Luke Wright and calls on the new government is to address the disconnectedness felt by so many in society. The work will be performed in the 6pm performance and consists of four spoken poems, which are interspersed with three sung choruses. The poems provide snapshots into the lives of characters who are isolated in some way. In the choruses the soprano, Juliet Fraser, acts as a Siren (in the Greek sense) who banally calls us to the so-called ‘national conversation’ singing ‘We’re all in this together… in leisure love and labour’.


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