Sussex composer's Easter premiere at Wells Cathedral

Dr Ed Hughes

University of Sussex composer Ed Hughes will see his new composition, A Buried Flame, receive its world premiere in Wells Cathedral in a special concert on Good Friday (April 2).

A Buried Flame was commissioned by The Bath Camerata, who will perform the work under the direction of former Kings Singer Nigel Perrin in their annual free public concert.

Ed Hughes, who is a Lecturer in Music at the University, says: “The Bath Camerata often commission new pieces of music. I wrote a piece for them in 2003 and I am delighted to have been invited again to produce a new work for this marvellous venue.”

The 19 minute piece features soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass voices, with additional parts for electric bass guitar and soundscape effects (sea sounds, spoken fragments and processing of the voices).

Dr Hughes' inspiration came from two sources: Psalm 69 from the Bible, often associated with Easter, and a book called Poems from Guantanamo (Iowa Press, 2007), containing writing by prisoners who had been detained without trial in Guantanamo Bay.

The book gained a lot of attention at the time of its publication in 2007, particularly through public readings by the likes of actress Vanessa Redgrave and the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.

The book’s editor, Marc Falkoff, and the University of Iowa Press gave Dr Hughes permission to use three of the poems along with the psalm in A Buried Flame.

Dr Hughes says: “I wanted to see if an ancient psalm could work alongside these modern texts. The piece begins with the psalm, in which the speaker seems to be oppressed and isolated, and then sets the three contemporary poems.

“All the poems express the horror of being locked up without charge or trial. Like many, I was disturbed that the ‘war on terror’ had produced these conditions. Many of the poems also movingly express longing for homeland and family.

“Ultimately, A Buried Flame is a reflection on the anguish of incarceration. The poems and the psalm reflect timeless and universal emotions – perfect subjects for this kind of composition. But it’s also about the need for reconciliation in the face of human suffering – the perennial theme of the Christian feast of Easter.”

Notes for Editors



A Buried Flame will be performed by The Bath Camerata in Wells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset, on Good Friday, 2 April, starting at 7.30pm. The main programme includes a performance of Fauré’s Requiem. Entrance is free. There will be a retiring collection for Cathedral Music.

Listen to excerpts from A Buried Flame here.

The concert is supported by the Performing Rights Society for Music Foundation.


Wells Cathedral has maintained a choral tradition virtually unbroken for over 800 years.


Ed Hughes’ work as a composer has included ensemble, orchestral, solo and vocal compositions. His research interests include composition, film music, the practice of sound in the 'silent' cinema and creative uses of contemporary cinematic technology.


For more information about Music at the University of Sussex, visit the Music web pages.


Bath Camerata is the foremost chamber choir in the south-west of England.


University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888 or email


Last updated: Wednesday, 31 March 2010