There are so many meanings embedded in The Fish that Became the Sun that it seems like it is only the start on a voyage of discovery. It can form the touchstone for many side projects, discussions and workshops. The main title relates to improbable transformation – the idea that, put in new contexts, things take on new meanings – how often do fish become the Sun?! Humour aside, if the value of the arts in society is to enrich our inner lives, and illuminate our emotional world, then the initial fascination prompted by Denyer’s work invites far deeper reflection and contemplation of important issues from new perspectives. 

Most obviously, musically, the work forms the starting point for an exploration of musical cultures, traditions and instruments form all over the world and throughout history. In addition, with so many specially (and simply) made instruments, the work invites us to think about the world around us – how might we make music out of the things in our everyday lives?

The general theme of dispossession is only the most obvious of the meanings emanating from the music, and this has ever increasing relevance in our contemporary world. Similarly, decay and the idea of recycling are evermore prescient.

Photo: Graham Hardy

The structure of the ensemble, with its ever-present, but non-dominant soloist, and its many smaller groups, presents notions of different communities. In turn, this provokes contemplation as to the nature of those differences, as the different ways communities might work with and against one another are manifest, musically. 

As Tom Service has said, The Fish that Became the Sun (Songs of the Dispossessed) is an immersion in a way of being in the world – musical social, political and emotional – that feels astoundingly contemporary, I think.’

Photo: Graham Hardy