When I began to think about writing music for such a large group of musicians as a symphony orchestra, I kept getting drawn back to a particular experience I had in the spring of 2009.
I was lucky enough to take part in an artist residency in Hong Kong; a city so dense and crammed with people that you couldn’t help but be aware of yourself and the physical space that you occupy. I remember vividly, working in my room on the 15th floor of a hotel (I was finishing a piece for solo cello at the time) and having the feeling of being hemmed in on all sides, as well as above and below, by bodies - thousands of bodies. There I was, in apparent perfect solitude but aware that only a few feet away were masses of people with their individual lives, problems, aspirations and beliefs. If you stopped and listened hard enough it was almost as if you could hear them all murmuring, shouting, screaming – a Mass of voices.
Without wanting to execute a literal aural representation, my writing of this piece was however informed by my memories of that strange experience and my feelings of connection with that unseen congregation.
In BODIES, a choir of double basses situated at the back of the orchestra leads the assembled voices onstage (and off) through a kind of liturgy towards something altogether more physical.