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Welcoming Joe Bates

Stainer & Bell is delighted to announce the publication of composer Joe Bates’s new choral piece Some Parts of Us in our Choral Now series.

A heart-warming personal meditation on the shared things that are the essence of friendship, Some Parts of Us also reaches out to all who have felt the highs and lows of relationships. The message will engage singers and audiences alike, vividly conveying true-to-life insights with the emotional directness of popular music.

Appropriately for a piece intended for choral singing, Some Parts of Us concerns shared experience. In the composer’s own words, ‘it is about how the basic things we have in common – homes, pasts, sunscreen – belong not to either person, but are built together.’ This is the bond of friendship that is more than the sum of its parts, yet which is often only fully appreciated in the twilight of a relationship. The cool nostalgia of the lyrics, which are Bates’s own, and intended uniquely to be sung, reflects a modern sensibility, one inspired by Stephen Sondheim’s gentle irony, and singer–songwriter Fiona Apple’s distinctive metrical language. There is a strong progression of mood within the piece, its notably expressive harmonies embedded in a texture impelled by the subtle weaving of fugue and stretto, yet with the emotional directness of popular music. The strikingly ‘speaking quality’ of this musical setting will engage choirs and audiences alike, with the composer’s craft set to the purpose of conveying true-to-life insights in a memorable contemporary idiom. Some Parts of Us was written for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain for their 2019–2020 Young Composers Scheme, and first performed at the Britten Studio, Snape Maltings on 1 November 2020.

Angus Smith chats with Joe Bates.
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