- Gaia Theory, for orchestra
- A Brief History of Creation, for children's chorus & orchestra
The British composer Jonathan Dove has found success with his operas, but his choral music, with ideas boiled down to a more concise medium, is perhaps even better. "A Brief History of Creation," which he himself compares to Haydn's "The Creation," except that it's based on modern science rather than the Genesis story and covers 14 billion years from the formless universe to the emergence of human beings. Along the way, the children's choir is a Greek chorus (which may be introduced by a child speaker) but also embodies various physical phenomena. There is no adult choir, and few reductions to a soloist; one memorable point is in "Ocean" (movement 4), where, after the choir intones that "in the ocean something has begun," a soloist recounts the first division of one cell into two. The text, by Dove's collaborator Alasdair Middleton, is full of picturesque animal imagery; it might verge on corny, but its perspective shifts attractively, and you are hereby defied to resist the young choristers (of both genders), who are expertly synchronized with the BBC Symphony Orchestra by conductor Sir Mark Elder, and who are said to have memorized the entire hour-long score. Another bonus is the purely orchestral "Gaia Theory" that brings down the curtain with its jazz-oriented finale. Totally accessible, Dove's music here is not predictable or nostalgic. Recommended, and quite appropriate for use in children's concerts or school programs.