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Cheryl Frances-Hoad The Whole Earth Dances (2016)

For violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano

10 minutes

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. Hughes’s description of the former ("Every one a revengeful burst of resurrection") and the latter ("Here is the fern’s frond, unfurling a gesture") 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 "warriors returning") 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 

This piece was Commissioned by The Schubert Ensemble and premiered at Spitalfields Summer Music Festival on Monday 13th June 2016. It was supported by The Schubert Ensemble Trust, Spitalfields Festival New Music Commission Fund,  and The Steel Charitable Trust

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