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Sir Simon Rattle Leads the World Premiere of Two Movements from Julian Anderson's Exiles in London

Sep. 01, 2021

Sir Simon Rattle led the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of two movements from Exiles on September 12 at the Barbican. The composer describes his poignant new work, which is both universal and timely in scope:

"Exiles is a meditation on many different aspects of leaving home and of longing for one’s homeland. It is in several movements using texts from many different traditions in a wide range of languages. It is dedicated to Sir Simon Rattle. Of the two movements being premièred [on September 12th], the first addresses the internal exile of Covid lockdown in 2020, whilst the second addresses the external exile of both individuals and whole nations. The contrast between these two movements is thus not merely of languages – French, Hebrew and English – but also of time. ‘le 3 mai’ refers to a specific and recent date, whilst ‘Tsiyon’ evokes events and characters from ancient history (Israel’s forced exile in Babylon) and myth (Ulysses’ odyssey).

‘le 3 mai’, unusually, sets to music an email communication sent on that date (3 May) in 2020. This extraordinarily poetic and touching text was written by the Moroccan- French composer Ahmed Essyad to some composer colleagues. It describes his frustration and puzzlement as an internal exile, unable to leave his own house during the lockdown of the first international Covid wave. He looks out at the beautiful Zerhoun mountain, waiting for his hand to start composing a new work. At the end, he sends a moving greeting to all his colleagues. The text ends with his signature, which I have also set to music.


‘Tsiyon’ sets the well-known Psalm 137 ‘By the rivers of Babylon’ in the original Hebrew. The text speaks of longing for the homeland in very poignant and direct language. The first half of this text is in the chorus, as it speaks in the collective first person plural. The soprano, meanwhile, sings a beautiful English text entitled ‘Exile’ by the late Romanian composer Horatiu Rădulescu, who fled to France from the Ceaușescu communist regime in the late 1960s. This, in contrast to the Psalm, is a very personal and individual text.

Towards the end, the Psalm text becomes much more personal, switching to the first person singular, at which point it is sung by the solo soprano only. Against this, the chorus sings a second, more objective English text by Rădulescu, evoking the ultimate exile, Ulysses, wandering (and wondering) endlessly along the shore at twilight."

The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, led by Robin Ticciati, will perform the world premiere of the full work in January, 2022. Exiles was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus, The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Listen to Julian Anderson's Catalan Peasant With Guitar for solo guitar (2015):

(Catalan Peasant With Guitar/Julian Anderson/Laura Snowden)

For more information about Julian Anderson, visit: schott-music.com.

Julian Anderson
Exiles (2021)
for solo soprano, SATB chorus, and orchestra
30'

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