Preview 4: The Silent Wound

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The most harrowing episode in the show describes the experience of different people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or ‘shell-shock’. They include a refugee mother and child, a conscript soldier in Africa, and here combatants in the Pakistan/Bangladesh war:

Their experiences are first described in song, woven together, and then – as is often my practice in my music for Grand Union – dramatised instrumentally, with jazz soloists embodying the characters:

Preview 3: Music and Graphs

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One of the compositional challenges I faced in this project was how to translate statistical data into music. I describe in the scenario how I wanted to tell the story of HIV/AIDS by converting a graph into a musical score. Here is a fascinating example in reverse: as the score moves across the screen, it looks a bit like a graph! There are three groups of three instruments (trumpets, saxes, trombones), playing identifiably different lines, which you can see and hear quite clearly:

I also wanted to find a way of expressing in music a more abstract idea that characterised our early workshops – debate or discussion. Here is an example: a soprano saxophone (Chris Biscoe) converses with trumpet (Claude Deppa) and alto saxophone (Tony Kofi); perhaps you can also hear vox pop (tuba) rumbling underneath?

If you’d like more detail, explore here!

Preview 2: The Ruined Towers

The final section of Song of Contagion is about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – ‘shell-shock’. It begins with a brief evocation of a devastated city in a war-torn region, anywhere from Eastern Europe to Central Asia in the last 60 years:

PTSD affects civilians and combatants alike. One of our stories is based on the experience of a refugee and her daughter, and will be sung by Maja Rivić, seen here performing a song from Undream’d Shores: