Seven Planets and a Cosmic Rock
a setting of original texts by Derek Roberts for unison choir
) with piano accompaniment. It begins nearest the sun and travels outwards, calling at Mercury, Venus,
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and, finally, Pluto - recently downgraded
to a cosmic rock.
Commissioned by the National
Youth Choir of Scotland
National Boys' Choir
and first performed by them in
April 2008. Vocal scores are available from the
National Youth Choir of
, Amazon (UK)
and Amazon (USA)
. Choral scores are available on request from NYCoS.
Subsequently performed in 2009 by children's choirs with the
London Symphony Orchestra in the Barbican and Northern Sinfonia in the Sage in
an orchestration by Paul Campbell
who has also created a flexiband orchestration for smaller ensembles.
This piece is so refreshingly different from other composers' treatment of
the subject that I found myself fully absorbed by Cunningham's use of vocal line
and harmonic dexterity ... a truly fine piece of music
... both musically accessible and vocally challenging.
Music Teacher, November 2008.
After the first performance, Christopher Bell wrote:
Thank-you very much for the Seven Planets and a Cosmic Rock.
The boys did us proud and pulled it off on the day. I still can't quite get
over that they sang it all from memory, despite the fact that it is longer
than Saga, and pretty much memorised it all - some occasional lapses not
withstanding. Everyone will have their own favourite movements of course,
and it pains me to choose any over the others but I do love Mars, Uranus,
and Saturn especially. Saturn struck me as unlikely favourite when we
started it, but there is something very moving about the melody, angular and
profound, and I love the little calling cry and the round. I can hear Saturn
orchestrated actually - full Hollywood treatment.
from NYCoS newsletter, June 2011:
Choirs Concert is out of this world
As part of a
year long celebration marking fifteen years of the National Youth Choir of
Scotland, almost 700 singers, aged 11 - 18, from nine NYCoS Area Choirs
travelled to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 8 May to take their place alongside
The Orchestra of Scottish Opera and conductor Christopher Bell for a spectacular
concert, sponsored by PRG.
singers, nine NYCoS Area Choirs, one Christopher Bell, an orchestra and a
hobbit! Drew Farrell
of the performance was Tom Cunningham’s galactic Seven Planets and a Cosmic
Rock with words by Derek Roberts - a piece specially commissioned by NYCoS
in 2008. The singers took the audience on a journey through space as they sang
their way past each of the planets in our solar system.
Not only were
the singers joined by the Changed Voices section of the NYCoS National Boys
Choir and Orchestra of Scottish Opera but also Lord of
the Rings Star and Patron of NYCoS National Boys Choir, Billy
Boyd, who jetted in from LA to narrate the piece.
NYCoS would like to
thank all those involved in such a wonderful event!
Here are one or two pages from
each song and a complete recording with piano accompaniment:
is by the NYCoS National Boys' Choir conducted by
Christopher Bell, accompanied by Stephen Doughty.