It has been a long time coming, but I am genuinely delighted to be able to announce that my next piece will be a commission for the Parliament Choir in memory of Jo Cox MP. This Light Of Reason will be premiered at the Parly Choir’s Christmas concert at St. John’s, Smith Square on Wednesday, 7th December, but we are very keen for the piece to find its way into other carol services this year – a tricky endeavour, but not impossible. The subject matter is not purely Christmas-specific, however, so while mangers are mentioned, the text by John Donne is much more to do with light succeeding against darkness than any particular time of year – it would work well at Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, even Passiontide, and it is my and the commissioner’s hope that it should enter the repertoire. I am particularly pleased that we have sought and received approval from those very close to Jo. I have already begun writing the piece, and things are going well, the music arriving smoothly and inhabiting an expanded tonal mood, its quirks hidden under the surface.
In the journey that has brought this piece to be I have spoken to many people, and we have all agreed that Jo’s life and work and even the shocking manner of her death have slipped into the background in the tumult of post-Referendum Britain. That all of this should have happened to an elected representative of the people in a country that prides itself on its democratic history is bad enough, but Jo was also without doubt a light against the darkness, somebody who lived and worked to enable the voiceless to have their opinions heard, and represented all that should be good about politics and people in general. I really am grateful for the opportunity to create some kind of memorial which might – just might – be reheard, so now it is down to my composing pencil.