In January 2018, an extract of the world première recording of “Continuum” was played on BBC Radio 3, alongside a short series of interviews with the conductor (and Musical Director of the Glasgow School of Art Choir), Jamie Sansbury, and composer, Shona Mackay.

The work – written for unaccompanied chorus and pre-recorded audio – was composed for the ensemble as part of the 2016/17 Adopt a Composer scheme, which pairs amateur ensembles with a composer for one year, facilitating a series of workshops resulting in a brand new commission composed especially for the ensemble. The world première performance is then broadcast on BBC Radio 3 the following year.

“Continuum” was premièred at the Glasgow School of Art Choir Fifth Anniversary Concert in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in May 2017.

Writing about the work, Shona says, “A number of years ago I watched a documentary called “Grey Gardens” (1976) about the lives of Edie Bouvier Beale and her mother, Edith (two eccentric and reclusive relatives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis). It painted an intimate, heartwarming, tragic and captivating portrait of two women who were living in a crumbling East Hampton mansion alongside numerous cats, fleas, and also raccoons who lived in the attic.

The film is full of interesting conversations and monologues but one particular line, spoken by “Little Edie”, really struck me at the time and has stayed with me ever since:

It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present.

“Continuum” is an exploration of the sentiment expressed in that quote – the past and the present, and the blurred, ever-shifting line between the two (with some help from Little Edie herself).”

Adopt a Composer is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, and funded by PRS for Music Foundation and the Philip and Dorothy Green Music Trust. The entire BBC Radio 3 programme can be heard below.