I am writing a new work for solo countertenor, choir and orchestra loosely based on the chemist Humphry Davy. It will be premiered at Truro Cathedral in November 2021 performed by the Three Spires Choir and Orchestra to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The performance will be conducted by Christopher Gray and the soloist will be Rory McLeery.
Davy was a Cornish chemist, inventor, painter, writer and poet – a reminder, in our current epoch of increasing ‘specialism’, of the breadth and potential roundedness of an individual. This was the age of public experiments by scientists on themselves, and none more so than Davy. He inhaled nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and many other gases and then detailed the results painstakingly (even in his inebriated/stoned state). It occurred to me that at a time when inventions are coming at us thick and fast, that these notes and detailed descriptions provide great texts for creative work. I don’t quite know what I’m going to do yet but I envisage editing and slicing fragments from his experiments and general writing alongside accounts of more contemporary experiments for use in a large-scale work for multiple voices and orchestra.