Mark Isaacs reveals how, in his imaginative new chamber symphony, it will be the voice that rocks the cradle.

World Premiere

M y new Chamber Symphony came about through a process of collaboration. Harry and Julie Johnson, avid music-lovers and concertgoers, generously wished to commission a new work, without any specific idea of forces. Needing to know the destination of my writing, I considered to whom I could put their proposal.

Some years ago, David Rowden, artistic director and clarinettist of the Omega Ensemble, had floated the idea of a collaboration. David seized upon the opportunity, telling me of a concert in 2015 in which the group would be performing a large chamber arrangement of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, with guest soprano Jane Sheldon. Would I like to write the new work for the same concert? I jumped at the idea, and since Jane would be performing in the concert, I could also include her voice in the score – an opportunity impossible to resist!

The forces having been decided upon, I needed some further direction. Last year I had heard a wonderful Omega Ensemble concert that featured two chamber symphonies (by Arnold Schoenberg and John Adams). I myself...