On Harrowdown Hill

On Harrowdown Hill was composed in about 5 weeks for English National Opera’s Mini Operas competition in 2012. It sets a libretto by Shaun Gardiner, written to a brief story by Will Self, both created especially for the competition.

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I was drawn to Gardiner’s rather Beckettesque libretto because I felt it conveyed the sorrow and bleakness of the central character of the Inspector, a good man who is thrown to the wolves by the government and the press. The original synopsis was based upon the true story of David Kelly, the UN Weapons Inspector who reportedly committed suicide in 2003, and Gardiner’s script hinted at the dark future of the Inspector in a way which I found intriguing.

Written for bass-baritone (The Inspector), counter-tenor/alto (The Advisor), tenor (The Journalist), chorus of Journalists, electric violin, flute, piano, strings and percussion, the opera was recorded in July 2012 from various parts of the Northern hemisphere by:

  • Charles Turner – The Inspector (USA)
  • Andrew Pickett – The Advisor (Canada)
  • Nick Allen – The Journalist (UK)
  • Chrissie Caulfield – electric violin (UK)
  • Caitlin Rowley – flute (UK)
  • Other parts were produced using Garritan Personal Orchestra virtual instruments

Read about the composition of On Harrowdown Hill in the journal