A song-cycle, for voice and ensemble by Colin Riley

In place explores a sense of place in the British Isles; how it informs our cultural identity; shapes our language and dialects; provides both solace and stimulation, and contains histories both universal and personal.

“Words act as a compass; place-speech serves literally to en-chant the land – to sing it back into being, and to sing one’s being back into it. We need now urgently, a Counter-Desecration Phrasebook that would comprehend the world – a glossary of enchantment for the whole earth, which would allow nature to talk back and would help us to listen.” (Robert Macfarlane ‘Landmarks’ 2015)

The song cycle will be 7 extended movements, each centred around a new piece of writing created for this project. The writers include Robert Macfarlane, Paul Farley, Nick Papadimitrou, Selina Nwulu, Jackie Morris, Daljit Nagra, Richard Skelton and Autumn Richardson. This provides  multiple styles, cultural viewpoints and personal histories from a contemporary perspective.  A range of other texts, drawn from diverse cultural, geographical and historical sources, are woven into the composition in a variety of  ways; poetry, prose, Anglo Saxon riddles, folksongs, journal entries, scientific treaties, news reports, and place-names.


Colin Riley composer (Moov/Homemade Orchestra)

Melanie Pappenheim voice (DV8/The Shout/Damon Albarn)

Ruth Goller upright & electric bass (Melt Yourself Down/Let Spin/Gufo)

Kate Halsall  keys/harmonium (Michael Clarke/Ockham’s Razor/Galvanize Ensemble)

Stephen Hiscock percussion (Ensemble Bash/Steve Reich/Nitin Sawhney)

Nic Pendlebury viola (Smith Quartet/Steve Reich/Django Bates)


Colin Riley is commissioned by sound as part of the PRS for Music Foundation’s Beyond Borders programme which is a co-commissioning and touring programme run in partnership with Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Arts Council of Ireland / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. In Place is also supported by Arts Council England.