The Fish that Became the Sun (Songs of the Dispossessed) is a 1-hour long piece of music for large ensemble by the English composer Frank Denyer. It was written in the early 1990s, although it remained unperformed until November 2019. With various collaborators, the Octandre Ensemble gave the World Premiere at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, releasing a studio recording on Another Timbre records on the same night. The concert received critical acclaim in the National press and online. It was later broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as one of the highlights of HCMF 2019.

A live performance is a very special event. 34 musicians play over a hundred rare and overlooked instruments in the work – some belonging to the obscurity of history, some found, some made especially for the piece. These ‘Songs of the Dispossessed’ are a visual treat as well as a musical one, with small communities of musicians placed around the performance space, their instruments on display, surrounding the audience.

Photo: Brian Slater

Denyer uses the metaphor of a musical ‘rubbish dump’ to describe the work:

 

‘The musical instruments have been abandoned… they have all.. been thrown away….. When things are thown away on a rubbish dump, they decay; they are separated; they become parts of something larger, and as such, then can enter into unusual alliances. They find themselves cheek by jowl with the most unexpected neighbours. And a new life starts, at that moment of new alliances.’