Updated: Oct 4
This concert will be sharing new choral works from composers David Knotts, Isaac Chai-Orson and Barnabas Sharp. The composers have responded to the theme of trees and this concert will be the world premiere of their work!
David Knotts is a pianist, composer, conductor and teacher. He was born in West Sussex and began learning piano at seven years old. He later went on to study with Robin Holloway at Cambridge University, Robert Saxton at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and completed a doctorate in composition with Martin Butler in 2004. David has also now taught at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music for many years.
Versions of these two poems appeared side by side in Come Hither, a large anthology of rhymes and poetry compiled in 1923 by Walter de la Mare. I had a Little Nut Tree first appeared in print in 1797 but historians believe it to date back to the 16th century when Joanna of Castille, daughter of Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, visited the court Henry VII in 1506.The King of China's Daughter exists in two versions dating from 19018/20 and is one of Sitwell's earliest poems. The text brings to life the silent figures of the chinoiserie decorations which adorned the homes of so many of the country's aristocratic families.
Isaac Chai-Orson (born 1997) is a Glasgow-based composer and artist whose work spans contemporary and electro-acoustic composition, as well as video and performance art. They are interested in documenting emergent social and digital trends, and their DIY aesthetic is underpinned by a philosophy dubbed ‘Post-Cringe’. With a keen focus on social realism, Isaac's work can be described as hauntological, exploring themes of loss, nostalgia and the uncanny.
Isaac studied composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland under the tutelage of David Fennessy, graduating with a First-Class degree. Their work has been performed by ensembles such as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Red Note Ensemble.
The Tree of Mercy
“In the Apocalypse of Moses, Adam believes that the oil from the Tree of Life can cure his ailments. He sends Seth and Eve to the doors of the Garden of Eden to ask God for its use. However, they are turned away. Instead, they are met with the angelic promise of the 'oil of mercy,' reserved for a future beyond our grasp—awaiting them at the end of time.
In the creation of this composition, I found myself immersed in contemplation of the emblematic Tree of Mercy, reflecting upon our unyielding desire to alleviate our suffering and distress, even in the face of formidable barriers. Within this piece, you'll hear echoes of Allegri's 'Miserere,' beginning with a deconstructed rendition of its opening notes.”
They Ripped it Up
“My inspiration for this composition was ignited by the documentary Taming the Garden by Georgian filmmaker Salomé Jashi. The film chronicles the extraordinary tale of Bidzina Ivanishvili, former president of Georgia, and his eccentric hobby of collecting ancient trees from the Georgian coastline against the whims of the local communities. Ivanishvili coordinates the uprooting of these ancient giants, embarking them on a surreal odyssey across land and sea, all in service of his greed and power.
In writing this work, I was considering the parental role that trees play in our communities and how the degradation of the natural world has changed the connections we form with our environment. For me, the image of a tree forcefully uprooted from its native soil takes on profound symbolism when we envision it as a metaphor of our delicate social fabric. This symbolism becomes particularly poignant when we contemplate the relentless pillaging of the welfare state by those in positions of power, driven solely by their own cannibalistic greed.”
Barnabas Sharp is a graduate composer from Royal Holloway, University of London; born in Kent and having returned to teach mathematics during the day, Barnabas spends most of their free time composing and singing. Providing a strong baritone voice, Barnabas is the official cantor at the AC Church of St. Augustine, Painters Forstall, a bass singer with Faversham Choral Society and a regular collaborator with the newly established Credo Ensemble in Canterbury. They are also a fellow of the Guild of Musicians and Singers.
Barnabas' composition career ranges from official concert commissions to providing original scores for several international award-winning short films. They enjoy writing choral works and songs which can premiere in vocal recitals. When not engaging in music, Barnabas enjoys almost weekly trips to the cinema, listening to as much music as possible and rewatching an unhealthy amount of Doctor Who.
A Tree Is
Whilst searching for interesting and unconventional tree-themed texts, Barnabas came across A Tree Is by American poet Kōan Brink which reflected their style of light humour suddenly juxtaposed with seriousness. This jumping from light to dark is brought about with the daunting diminished 7th alternating with a mixolydian melody. The piece charges forward with speech-like rhythms due to its matter-of-fact text.
Looking for more local poets, Barnabas had an image of an ancient tree and the history that it witnessed whilst researching for this commission. Roots by Faversham poet and artist Rebecca Lehmann brought this celestial mystery to words. Set to a simple minor scalic figure which is slowly twisted, layered and repeated constantly. The sounds weave together like the leaves and branches of an old tree that continues to grow, change and remain a sentry through time. It is not a matter of repetition, but an echo.
· Barnabas Sharp BA MMus PGDip FFSC FGMS