We are delighted that Sadie Harrison’s Fire in Song for clarinet, viola, clapsticks and reciters has just been recorded for Divine Art/Metier to be released early in 2021. The recording took place on 6 October through an enterprising virtual process set up by sound engineer David Lefeber. This enabled Sadie in Dorset to watch the recording taking place in London via Youtube, with comments via her phone directly into the venue in real time!

The work will form part of a disc entitled ‘..for clarinet and strings..’ (MSV28608) recorded by members of Gemini, with Fire in Song performed by Ian Mitchell, Caroline Balding, Aleksander Szram and Sophie Harris.

Ian writes: 'From its very beginning in 1974 Gemini has commissioned composers in a variety of styles, and programmed works and composers that have been overlooked sometimes for many years. This album presents works by Cyril Scott and Rebecca Clarke that have been championed by the ensemble. The Scott quintet was premiered by the Melos Ensemble in 1953 and possibly given only its second performance (his widow thought this was the case) – at London’s South Bank Centre in 1995. The Clarke duo, like much of her music, was unfamiliar to most people, and (performing from manuscript copies) Gemini has given a number of airings including a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast. A central plank of Gemini’s programming has always been to promote contemporary composers including music by women – 32 of whom have been commissioned, with over 70 performances of works by women. The ensemble has developed long-standing relationships with many composers: commissioning, performing and recording with the aim of giving their music a wider audience. Gemini has had a long and close musical relationship with Nicola LeFanu (eventually inviting her to be the ensemble’s Honorary President); supported Sadie Harrison from very early in her career and commissioned a number of works from Howard Skempton.'

Sadie writes: 'Fire in Song tells the creation story about fire told by the Yolngu group of Aboriginal Australians who live primarily in north-east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. The work was written during the catastrophic bush fires that swept much of Australia in 2019-2020. It reflects on the Aboriginal approach to the fires. The outer movements provide a contemporary context - dark, abrasive commentaries on the current extreme climatic events with the central movements based on Aboriginal songs and dances from Northern and Central Australia. The story of fire's creation by Baru the Saltwater Crocodile and the joyful unification of clans as it was spread across Australia by animals, insects and birds is recited by percussionists to the pulse of Aboriginal clapsticks. The work is dedicated to David Lumsdaine and Ian Mitchell, teachers and supporters both.'

The work is in seven movements:

I    The World's Lament

II   Bandicoot and the Hollow Log

III  Quail and the Burning Twig

IV  Honey Bees and the Paperbark Swamp

V   Honey Bees and the Tall Grass

VI  Baru the Saltwater Crocodile and the Ancient Fire

VII Lament for the Whole World

(16 Oct 2020)

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