AuroraCommissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Proms, this three-movement Concerto for Coloratura Soprano is an exploration of coloristic and atmospheric wonder of the Northern Lights. The work received its world premiere at the BBC Proms in August 2018 with soprano Adela Zaharia, led by Maestro Vasily Petrenko.
The Hidden PlaceA return collaboration with soprano Diana Damrau, this orchestral song cycle is a setting of poems by Christa Palmer, speaking of furtive, precious moments shared by two lovers deep in a woodland; moments spanning the four seasons. A recording was made in 2009 with Damrau and the RSO Wien led by Maestro Kobera. The official world premiere will be given in March 2019 with Damrau and the LSO under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda with a subsequent performance at the Enescu Festival in September.
London's Fatal FireTo commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Greatest Fire of London, The Spitalfields Festival and New London Chamber Choir commissioned Iain Bell to compose a cantata for unaccompanied choir and two operatic soloists based on Samuel Wiseman's narrative poem 'London's Fatal Fire' which charted the progress of the fire from its first sparks to its ruinous climax.
Tom O'BedlamCommissioned by the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, the anonymously-penned poem ‘Tom O’Bedlam’ is set as an ayre for baritone and chamber orchestra. Part saga, part stream-of-consciousness, Tom recounts his descent to madness by virtue of his libidinous lifestyle and speaks of his life begging on the streets of London. It was premiered by US-baritone Nathan Gunn.
A Litany in Time of PlagueCommissioned by the Orchestra Academy of the Bavarian State Orchestra for the Munich Opera Festival 2015, Bell's setting of Nashe’s 1600 poem ‘A Litany in Time of Plague’ is scored for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra. It is a raw yet poignant setting of the text which explores the inevitability of death for each and every one of us; a fate we are told even the cleverest, most beautiful or wealthiest among us is unable to avoid.
Moll's a'coldThis is the mad scene from Bell's opera 'A Harlot's Progress'.
Mad with syphilis, Moll journeys through varied states of anguish, fixating on her sores, then singing a lullaby to her absent child. This gives way to fits of rage as she recalls the violence with which she was forced into prostitution. Overcome and weakened by this outburst, she calls down the night to take her away. Wrapping herself in a sheet, she sings herself to sleep. Finally, at peace, she dies.