Triptych: Letter to Michael

Research output: Performances, compositions and other non-textual formsComposition



A few years ago I came across an extraordinary piece of art by a woman named Emma Hauck. She was admitted to a German psychiatric ward about a hundred years ago diagnosed with schizophrenia. Whilst a patient there she produced pages and pages of text – thousands of lines in pencil which were addressed to her husband who had ceased to visit her. She simply wrote the words “Sweetheart Come” over and over again or sometimes just the word “come”. Every page is thick with overlapping text and some are so condensed as to be illegible.

I was deeply moved by these repeated pleas and feel strongly that the desperate passion that can be seen on these pages could only really be expressed with voices. I imagine a dense layering of a simple line; each voice adding to the power of the plea…

Commissioned by the Cork International Choral Festival for 'From Composition to Performance, the Seminar on New Choral Music' and grant-aided by the Arts Council of Ireland / An Comhairle Ealaoín. This work was premiered at the Cork International Choral Festival on 2nd of May 2014 by Chamber Choir Ireland, conducted by Paul Hillier.

This piece is part of the triptych ‘Letter to Michael’ – ‘Ne Reminiscaris’ – ‘Hashima Refrain’.


Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversal Edition
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 2 May 2014