Commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the 75th anniversary of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in December 2010.
When composing Everyone Sang, I imagined the orchestra as being made up of many voices, capable of producing a unified and joyful melody that could also break off into many individual and varied strands of song. The piece juxtaposes a sense of celebratory joy and, towards the end of the piece, elated unison outbursts, with a sense of melancholy. As the piece was written to commemorate the BBC Scottish Symphony’s 75th birthday, I wanted to celebrate the orchestra’s wonderful and multi-faceted sound as a whole but also focus on individual sections and groupings within it.
The piece opens with a long melody, which passes back and forth from 1st to 2nd violins and is commented on by woodwind flourishes and vibrant touches of percussion and celesta. This melody becomes the source of all other melodies in the piece, whether they are wild and unpredictable or slow moving and distant. Towards the end of the piece, these melodic strands, which have become more and more removed and disparate from their original source, are used in combination and with contrasted temporal identities before again becoming one voice. An exhilarant unison melody for high violins, woodwinds, percussion, harp and celesta is reminiscent of the work’s opening, and returns in outbursts contrasted with a distant, slower moving chorale until the work’s close.
The title of the piece comes after the poem by Siegfried Sassoon, and seemed to resonate with the images of song, unity, hope and a sense of fragility that are all central to my piece.