After the success of The Cool Web and Extraordinary Creatures in 2014 and 2015, Shean Bowers and the Melody Makers of Bath Abbey have awarded Sue Curtis and me a Christmas Carol commission. The brief was write a brand new Christmas Carol that would tingle the spine and warm the heart, for the Melody Makers to perform in Bath Abbey and the city over Christmas 2015.
Sue has been writing a blog of daily (mostly) poems over the last few months as an exercise to get pen onto paper (or finger on to keys even). One of the most beautiful poems was a short and sweet nativity piece, a very simple atmospheric painting of a scene; Mary gently protecting the baby Jesus; a mother and her child. This is the most powerful and universal theme, life at it’s most beautiful and most vulnerable, and a symbol that relates to humans the world over, regardless of creed or colour or nationality.
This simple yet sweet poem is the basis of our carol, Nativity.
Shean likes to use the building as another voice for his performances (he practices an innovative use of the space, which greatly informed my writing for the children’s choir in The Cool Web) so the carol begins with a solo child singing in the distance.
The première of our Christmas Carol Commission – Nativity – took place on December 19th at the annual Bath Abbey Music Society Carol Service. Shean Bowers (now acting head of music following Peter King’s retirement) has asked Sue Curtis and me to write a concert length Christmas Oratorio for the BAMS Carol Service 2016. A narrator will read passages from the Christmas story (King James’ Bible), accompanied by many well known and loved European/British Christmas carols, and 2 or 3 original carols with original lyrics by Sue Curtis. The première will take place on December 10th 2016.