This is a live recording of Joe Bates' piece Ceasing which we performed at the Barbican Centre's Sound Unbound festival on Sunday 19 May at St Bartholomew-the-Great in London.
Ceasing is a piece for choir and live electronics commissioned specially for our Vox Machina project which is supported by Arts Council England.
In the cab, I can hardly bear to face the driver.
Do I cry, so he knows, or lock my eyes upon the road ahead?
As we creep through traffic, I track the time as though she’s waiting on a given hour,
As if she’s going to meet me there, as if she’s going to wait for me.
When I arrived, she was already dead.
There isn’t much else that I remember.
The priest took too long,
I didn’t know how to pray,
She seemed so small, such a small thing.
What did I miss?
Was there some last coherence?
Some glimpse of pain, a grimace?
Random tremors, monitors chiming,
Rattling breath, gasping, sagging, a clouding,
A ceasing, not a parting.
Perhaps a fading, too?
Unconscious for hours, or confused.
It was when we heard / When they called / When I saw a foreign number come up / when the machines turned off
We knew / I knew for the first time / had known for years / for the first time since the stroke / for hours / for a while
We were no longer needed / we couldn’t help at all
But when she was sick / because when she was in hospital / in the home she hated
There was somewhere to congregate
Now we have to find new markers
Her grave / his ashes /best to forget him / his favourite joke / the anniversary match / that time over Easter when we almost died laughing
Joe Bates is a composer and curator, and artistic director Filthy Lucre. His work has been internationally-recognised by major competitions such as MATA Festival and the London Symphony Orchestra Panufnik Scheme. His work is programmed in venues across London, from established festivals like Occupy the Pianos at St. John’s Smith Square and the Barbican’s Sound Unbound programme, to independent music nights and theatre. It has been described as a work ‘made with brilliant material,’ whose ‘result was utterly uncanny.’ (New York Classical Review) He also performs his own music as an electronic artist. His recent electronic EP, Flim Flam, was described by composer Dominic Murcott as “quirky and floating somewhere between classical music and electronica.”