On 29th April 2017, the New World Symphony premiered the latest work by Purcell alumnus, Oscar Bettison, at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, USA.
The startling new score, ‘Lights in Ashes’, is an orchestral re-imagination of the seventh and final movement of Bettison’s earlier work, ‘O Death’, for ensemble and electronics from 2005-2007.
‘O Death’ was inspired by a folk song of the same name, and tells the story of a young man who pleads with Death not to ‘take him too soon’. A commercial recording of ‘O Death’ was released in 2010 and received critical acclaim.
The new piece, however, takes its title from the 1658 Sir Thomas Browne book Hydriotaphia, or Urne-Burial, and has now been arranged for 23 musicians and pre-recorded audio. ‘Lights in Ashes’ maintains the original chamber ensemble version but makes additions to the opening.
This is the first composition from Bettison to premiere since he was named a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow in early April 2017.