This work in its original form was for solo voices and a consort of viols, and was commissioned by the Lichfield Festival in England, and was first performed by Red Byrd and Fretwork on July 16, 1993 in the Lichfield Cathedral.
This arrangement was made for a performance conducted by Mark Shapiro, in the Dag
Hammerskjold Auditorium, United Nations, New York, November 24, 1998.
One of the challenges of writing Wild Winter was to find an appropriate text to commemorate the Siege of Lichfield. When I did not find a contemporary text that was suitably lyrical or dramatic, I had the idea that it might be interesting to select poems from many different times and countries.
The poems I eventually chose were non-specific as to time and place, yet they all shared the powerful emotions resulting from the inevitable losses and cruelties of any war. I also chose the poems because of certain words or phrases which I could use to overlap or link the setting of one poem with another - their merging cries of protest creating a sonic tapestry of shared experience.
To mention a few examples:-
War broke and the winter of the world....(Owen)
No se oye otra cose que el llanto (weeping)....(Lorca)
Do not weep maiden, for war is kind.......(Crane)
Le donne lagrimose....(women, weeping)..(Petrarch)
Den wilden Orgel des Wintersturms....(wild, winterstorm)..(Trakl)
...Wilde Wölfe...(wild wolves)
I made English translations of all these poems (inevitably rather free so the words would be comfortably singable) - however, to emphasize the universality of human response to the consequences of war, I would prefer they be sung in their original languages.
For me, thoughts of this distant war, the Siege of Lichfield, brings to mind my concern and outrage with the happenings in the world today, where we are witnessing once again "man's inhumanity to man".
Thea Musgrave. June 1993