Chamber Choir premieres new work inspired by maritime deaths

Cutty Sark

Trinity Laban MFA Composition student Caitlin Rowley premieres her commissioned work for the Trinity Laban Chamber Choir on Thursday 20 March under the bow of the Cutty Sark.

In a collaboration with Royal Museums Greenwich, Caitlin's five minute unaccompanied composition Drowning Songs will be performed acapella by 25 members of the choir. The piece commemorates the 1,036 merchant navy seamen who were drowned other than in shipwrecks in 1881-82. Originally from Sydney Australia, Caitlin also wanted to connect to the Cutty Sark and its Australian connections - in 1883 it carried over four thousand bales of wool from New South Wales to London in just 83 days.

Caitlin told the Flash: "The initial idea forDrowning Songscame from a description in Raymond B. Lech's book All the Drowned Sailors, of dead bodies falling down through clear water "like small dolls". In the National Maritime Museum's Caird Library I found a list of the names of all merchant navy seamen drowned "by Accident other than Wreck" in the year 1882. Each name was accompanied by a one line description of how they died and I was struck by how many of these sailors died in the course of doing perfectly ordinary things.

"The whole piece really derives from these two ideas and is about both the vast number of lives lost at sea by drowning and the solitary experience of the drowning individual."

Caitlin's music has received performances around the world, including at festivals in Australia, Norway and the UK, and has been broadcast on national radio in Australia. Since moving to the UK in 2005 she has studied with Tansy Davies, Stephen Montague, Dominic Murcott and Deirdre Gribbin and currently works alongside Errollyn Wallen MBE at Trinity Laban.  Her work encompasses solo instrument, chamber, vocal, choral, orchestral and film music and is influenced by 20th century composers such as Erik Satie and Igor Stravinsky. Caitlin is an associate artist at the Australian Music Centre.

The evening will also host an array of work from Judith Bingham (Salt in the Blood), Richard Rodney Bennett (Full Fathorn Five) and Percy Grainger (Songs and Sea Shanties) and will be directed by Stephen Jackson. 

Subscribe to our Mailing List

Stay up-to-date with performances and activities happening at Trinity Laban.

Subscribe now