Upper Voices, SATB and optional solos from the choir; violin solo and piano accompaniment
Also an upper voice version
Duration: 18′
Oxford University Press
Commissioned by The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain
First performance 10 August, 2018 | NCCGB | Harriet Mackenzie, violin | Claire Dunham, piano | Dan Ludford-Thomas, conductor | Birmingham Town Hall, UK

Programme note:

Commissioned by The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain on its 20th Anniversary and first performed by the Choirs in Birmingham Town Hall on 10 August, 2018, Harriet Mackenzie, violin, Claire Dunham, piano, conducted by Dan Ludford-Thomas.

Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo tells the extraordinary story of Nujeen Mustafa, a Kurdish teenager with cerebral palsy forced by war to flee her home and embark on an arduous journey to Europe with her sister. In this five-movement cantata Nujeen’s story – recounted in her biography ‘The Girl from Aleppo’ (co-authored by Christina Lamb) – is retold by Kevin Crossley-Holland and richly scored by Cecilia McDowall. A wealth of musical effects are employed to capture the narrative, including chorales, rhythmic spoken sections, body percussion, and a solo violin part infused with Middle Eastern flavours. The prevailing mood of Nujeen’s story is embodied by the final line of a chorale that bookends this unique concert work: ‘singing the song of life itself.’

‘Cecilia McDowall has won a reputation as a leading composer of choral music and her extensive catalogue contains many distinguished examples.  The emotional heft of this story has clearly inspired her to produce one of her most striking scores for the medium.’

‘McDowall has long had a special gift for choral writing, and here she resourcefully combines upper voices with an SATB chorus . . . in settings of Kevin Crossley-Holland’s text narrating the journey of two sisters (one pushing the other in a wheelchair) across the miles from Syria to asylum in Germany . . . The music bursts with compassion.’

Link to buy score:

Link to view score: