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Helen Grime

Publisher: Chester Music

Everyone Sang (2010)
Commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the 75th anniversary of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in December 2010.
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
10 Minutes
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Programme Note
Helen Grime Everyone Sang (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.


Preview the score

  • Ensemble
    Hallé Orchestra and Hallé Soloists
    Lynsey Marsh
    Sir Mark Elder and Jamie Phillips
  • 12 JUN 2020
    Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, WI
    Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
    Ken-David Masur, conductor

    Other Dates:
    13,14 June - Uihlein Hall, Milwaukee, WI

Reviews orchestral score in which contrasting layers — sober string and woodwind writing alongside glittering percussion and brass — evoked a moment inspired by a Siegfried Sassoon poem, in which soldiers momentarily escape the tensions of war by singing.,14/08/2012
...a luscious range of colours.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,28/06/2011
...the brilliantly gleaming new score from the wonderful Helen Grime, Everyone Sang, shone like a bridge star, gloriously coloured and translucent, characteristically intricate but direct and expressive in its impact.
Michael Tumelty, The Herald,06/12/2010
Grime's new piece, Everyone Sang, boasted all the technical clarity and timbral imagination that we are becoming familiar with.
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman,05/12/2010
Everyone Sang...enlarges on the foundations Grime laid with Virga and A Cold Spring: all are compact, confident, abstract pieces that challenge musicians without putting audiences off. Everyone Sang throws out bright, pungent ideas - singing woodwinds, syncopated string motifs - above an undertow of darker material, and it's the contrasts and tensions between these layers that give the piece its dynamism.
Andrew Clark, Financial Times,03/12/2010
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