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Program note: Lament for Dunblane Jennifer Fowler

  • The Song Company
  • Source: M for Murder 21 June 1997

Lament for Dunblane* Jennifer Fowler (b. 1939)
On Wednesday, l3th March 1996, sixteen children, all 5 years old were shot and killed at a
primary school in Dunblane, Scotland along with their teacher. Eleven more children and two other
teachers were shot and injured.

The text of Lament for Dunblane is a response to this tragedy although it refers to it only
obliquely. The music itself follows on from Plainsong for strings written in 1992.lt spins out
a long line of lamentation divided between antiphonal sopranos. The lower parts underpin the
line, using the bleak intervals of 4th and 5ths particularly at cadence points, but also unsettle
the line with uneasy independent movement.
The text was constructed by the composer in such a way as to reflect what is happening
musically. A limited choice of vowels and consonants is used at any moment and the sounds
are chosen to suit the particular vocal registers of each note.
Jennifer Fowler was born in Bunbury and was active in Western Australia before a Dutch
government scholarship took her to Utrecht in 1968. She has been living in London ever since
as a free-lance composer. Her works have been performed and broadcast all over the world.

* World premiere