Op.129 no.1

for flute, SATB soli, SSATBB choir
4¾ mins.
May 2010

Hubbub was commissioned by Jack and Linda Hoeschler of St. Paul, Minnesota for the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge. The piece received its British première on 4th September 2010 in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge by the choir of Clare College, Cambridge under Timothy Brown, with Daniel Pailthorpe (solo flute).  The USA première was given on 24th September 2010 at the University of St Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, also by the choir of Clare College, Cambridge under Timothy Brown, but with Nicholas Mogg playing the solo flute part.

Programme notes

Scored for solo flute and mixed voices, and lasting just under five minutes, Hubbub is a setting of a poem by Kevin Crossley-Holland  which examines the difficulty of holding on to clear principles and a thoughtful outlook in a world cluttered by material distractions and information overload. The wild bird (represented by the flute) symbolises the spirit; and it is clear from the start that it has been degraded – or at least compromised – by its consumer environment.  Urban and suburban songbirds have in fact started to assimilate the ringtones of cell-phones into their repertoire of calls; it is not hard to imagine how muddling this must be for them.  So my bird interrupts its “natural” song with mindless quotes, delivered mechanically and without understanding; despite this, its own song survives and wins through – but only just.


Giles Swayne 2010




despite the hubbub, and the blabber,
and the tyranny of choice,

which way from Babel to syllables of sound
– and the brain inching along the path of reason?

despite the ease and do-as-you-please,
and the soporific voice

which way from cradle
to the sheer crossing-place,
shape-changing and wound in dark veils,
home of the hard-won?

despite the creeds,
the hand-me-downs and screeds

which way from will to willing,
and that shining emptiness,
the cloud of unknowing?

despite the daydreams and anxieties

which way from what has been,
or will be,
to this one bird, wild and soaring,
here and now, and forever?

despite the hubbub,
despite the blabber,
despite the ease and do-as-you-please,
despite the creeds and hand-me-downs,
despite the screeds,
despite the daydreams and anxieties . . .
here, now and for ever

Kevin Crossley-Holland