Songs Without Words is a set of three short pieces, each inspired by a classic twentieth century poem. There is an underlying theme of 'School'.
1. School Bell
The music urgently moves forward within an anxiously breathless waltz lest we be late for school. Originally inspired by Eleanor Farjeon's famous poem "Nine O'clock Bell" where pupils hustle and bustle to school in the morning:
Some of them scurrying, others not worrying, Carelessly trudging or anxiously hurrying.
2. A Blitz of a Boy
With an affectionate nod to Charles Causley's sad tale about "Timothy Winters" who "hasn't heard of the welfare state". He sleeps on a sack on the kitchen floor, and they say there aren't boys like him anymore. Although the music is laden with pathos, there is insuppressible energy too, portraying that lovable "Blitz of a Boy"!
3. A Lesson You'll Never Forget!
Roger McGough's black poem "The Lesson" was the catalyst for this piece. The teacher (and later even the headmaster) set upon a notoriously rowdy class with various lethal weapons, systematically murdering all the pupils! He picked on a boy who was shouting and throttled him then and there, then garrotted the girl behind him (the one with grotty hair). The baroque style recitative passages represent the school "establishment", and are contrasted ludicrously with savage harmonic 'stabs' and terrifyingly anxious "chase scenes" around the class room; this poem is not for the squeamish!