Elegy for Aylan

This was a commissioned piece by Classic FM and the Royal Philharmonic Society as a result of being one of the winners of the Classic FM 25th Birthday commission prize in partnership with the RPS. The piece was performed by Ensemble 10/10 which is a branch of the RLPO at St George's Hall in Liverpool on 13th October 2017.

Programme Note

My piece, "Elegy For Aylan" is a loose song without words setting of a poem of mine inspired by the story of Aylan, a three-year old Syrian child. In 2015, he was found washed up on a Turkish beach, sparking international outrage, and causing him to become symbolic of the immense struggles undergone by refugees.

I was asked to write this piece by the Royal Philharmonic Society and Classic FM in honour of Classic FM's 25th birthday, which might suggest, perhaps, a rather more obviously celebratory outcome than an elegy. However, I wanted to write a piece that demonstrates what an exceptionally powerful tool classical music can be; allowing us to express freely emotions which may otherwise remain under discussed, or even, at times, entirely stifled. I strongly feel that music has the potential to explore a wide range of issues, including contemporary social and environmental ones. Indeed many composers in history have done this – for example think of Beethoven, Berlioz and Kurt Weill. Thus, in its own way, I hope "Elegy For Aylan" can be viewed, at least in part, as the celebration it was commissioned to be.

Below is the poem I wrote on which the piece is based:

Thrown upon an alien shore, an outstretched, shot-down
Star plucked too early from its ruined
Sky, the dust of many broken
Waves filling the spaces between naked
Arms; a last cry, borne in its own last
Echoes on the encradling tide.


This recording of Ensemble 10/10, conducted by Clark Rundell, is given with permission from Liverpool Philharmonic


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