We Are The Light

Premiere: May 4, 2017 – Aa Kerk, Groningen, The Netherlands

Commissioned by the Prins Claus Conservatorium, Groningen

Composed by the students of Zernike College, Prins Claus Conservatorium in Groningen in collaboration with Hannah Conway.



Programme notes:

Three weeks ago, forty students from Zernike College, five students and four professors from the Prins Claus Conservatorium and UK composer Hannah Conway met for the first time. They worked for three days intensively to create ‘We Are The Light’. Lyrics and music written from scratch and assembled in eighteen hours, a concentrated creative composition project. Through creative writing, vibrant discussion and quiet reflection we encountered Mozart’s requiem and dissected the three main themes of life, death and ritual. During this process words gradually emerged and from these texts, music was born.

These three days were rich and intensely satisfying. The new music was gathered by composer Hannah Conway, who orchestrated and arranged the work for the Prins Claus Conservatorium orchestra and choir to create a mosaic woven with the Mozart Requiem. All the new music and words were created by the students.

How do we respond to death as a society? We examined contemporary and historical imagery connected to ‘rituals after death’ with Wiebe Buis. We thought about the ways in which society collectively comes together to remember or pay tribute to people who have died; those we know but also those unknown personally to us.

We attempted to define the meaning of life! We shared important benchmarks in our personal lives so far and discussed the wisdom and advice we would impart. We discussed why is society sometimes afraid to address or ask difficult questions and why people fear confrontation with others who have opposing views?

We debated whether the dead should be given a platform on social media? Whether Facebook accounts should be allowed to remain active and reflected upon how we use media to capture our daily lives?

Through our music making we experienced how the arts can empower us to make changes in society as young people; how we can achieve a collective, unison voice and how to make impact.

We quietly shared thoughts about people in our lives for whom we would write pieces of music, as a tribute, and/or to mark important events or moments in our lives. We treasured memories of people held precious and wrote cathartic pieces to represent poignant relationships.

Finally, we worked with Evert Bisschop Boele to consider how music is connected to our identity, how it connects us to time and place; how we use music to influence others and how it connects us to our past and future.