This song, for soprano, mezzo, and piano, was commissioned by Natalie Burch for a recording project with Fleur Barron and Francesca Chiejina for Delphian records. The disc is a “state of the nation” project, and pairs Britten's On This Island, and Finzi's Before and After Summer with new work by myself and Joanna Ward.
I set text taken from the 2014 immigration bill as introduced, choosing the text that describes the royal ascension (this precedes all bills), as well as the printed statement from then Home Secretary Theresa May that states that the bill does not contravene the EU 1998 bill on human rights. I remembered the controversy around this bill at the time. Later in 2019 this bill would impact my life directly as my husband and I navigated it with difficulty, trying to obtain a visa for his continued stay in the UK.
As well as this personal connection I find the bill troubling, as well as key to understanding UK society as it currently stands. It is a cornerstone of the UK government's “hostile environment” immigration policies, and, significantly, is seen by some as the final step in a long line of policy changes that resulted in the shocking Windrush Scandal. The Home Secretary's statement that the bill does not contravene the 1998 EU Human Rights Act, although inserted as a matter of procedure, is particularly interesting as much of the conversation in parliament leading up to this bill’s introduction concerned the governments intentional avoidance of the obligations of that human rights act. Inasmuch as any country is defined by its relationships with others, I find our current immigration policies to be integral to understanding UK culture -- our immigration rules describe our borders more deeply than the lines on our maps.
The bill and the parliamentary debate around it's introduction is freely available and can be found in Hansard.
Removal and Other Powers Full score PDF download
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Natalie Burch, Fleur Barron, and Francseca Chiejina, have put together a disc on a state of the nation theme. Two new commissions from Joanna Ward and me, alongside Finzi and Britten.