In 2019, Stuart and Miriam Marchant, who together run the Romsey Festival of Youth Music in Hampshire, commissioned me to write a short piece for massed youth choirs, celebrating singing and community, to words by my daughter Mary Bullard.
The piece was duly written and delivered – but we all know what happened then! Not only was the 2020 Festival cancelled, and the 2021 Festival, but even the scheduled first performance in June 2022 was cancelled because although singing was then allowed, few of the schools had started their choirs up again, and teachers and parents were still fearful of what singing might do to their children’s health…..
But luckily, a first performance was arranged in Autumn 2022 in Romsey Abbey with several schools represented, which I directed, and then, just last Friday, the first ‘official’ performance took place in Romsey Abbey as part of the Festival, directed by Stu Marchant.
Dedicated to ‘The young people of Romsey, who sing with one voice’, One Voice for All is a celebration of the joy of singing, and a call for peace, friendship, and care for the environment – so perhaps its enforced delay gave it an extra special relevance – and if the first performance was a ‘superspreader’ it was one of joy, friendship, and peace. The music is upbeat and lively in style and there are two versions, one for mixed voices in three parts (SABar) – the original version – and one for unison voices. Both are accompanied by piano.
Here’s the words of the chorus:
‘One voice for all people,
One song for our world;
Singing for the universe,
Bringing us together,
Keeping us together,
Singing for our future.’
The performances were characterised by really enthusiastic, rhythmic and tuneful singing from the choirs – something to always delight a composer of music for young people! And Romsey Abbey was packed with young people making music of all types, emphasising the importance of music-making in children’s lives.
You can hear the first performance here, together with a scrolling score.
Let’s ‘sing for our future’ with the final lines of the song:
‘With open arms,
With open hearts,
With open minds,