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The ‘Songs of the Dispossessed’ are communicated very clearly in performance. As Denyer says, the piece presents a society in decay, wherein many histories is side by side, creating new meanings

The ensemble itself consists of many dispossessed items, from instruments reclaimed from everyday contexts (such as paving slabs, broom sticks and wine glasses) to those from not-every-day contexts (hunting calls, conch), to those reclaimed, having been bound for the skip, such as the upcycled organ pipes. 

There are many forgotten instruments from cultures now disappeared: Eunuch Flutes have now disappeared; Crumhorns come from a time before our own; sistra rattles have their origins in Ancient Egypt.

The Fish that became the Sun Rehearsal (

Instruments from different cultures and traditions, divorced from their original contexts, sit side-by-side in improbable, fascinating combinations, such as the sitar, mandolin and dulcimer trio, the various Indian and African percussion instruments, the children’s voices and the Eunuch flutes.

The music itself communicates the idea of dispossession, from the ‘displaced’ role of the solo violinist to the children’s nursery rhymes (which, at some point in our lives, we dispossess), to other musical fragments which might seem ‘throwaway’ on first hearing, but might be jewels as they recur.


Photo: Graham Hardy

Photo: Graham Hardy

The different musics interconnect in so many ways that with all of these different communities, indeed all of these different histories, in the same piece, the experience for the audience is one of discovery.

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