Richard Causton composes 2015 commissioned carol

Richard Causton

The composer of this year's commissioned Christmas carol is Richard Causton, Fellow in Music at King's, who has set to music a new poem by George Szirtes. 'The Flight' will receive its first public performance at A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Causton was born in London in 1971 and has studied at the University of York, the Royal College of Music and the Scuola Civica in Milan. He has been a Fellow in the Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge, and is currently a Fellow in Music at King's College and Reader in Composition at the University of Cambridge.

In addition to composition, Causton writes and lectures on Italian contemporary music and regularly broadcasts for Italian radio (RAI Radio 3). King's has previously commissioned Out of your sleep, an Advent carol by Causton, which was first performed at King's in 2012.

For more on commissioned carols see the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols page. The full text of this year's commissioned carol will be published in the 2015 service booklet.

Causton on the commissioned carol

Earlier this year I spent a great deal of time in libraries looking for a suitable text for my new carol and although I unearthed many old and very beautiful poems about the Nativity, I struggled to find one that I really wanted to set to music. I had a growing sense that at this precise moment it is perverse to be writing a piece about a child born in poverty, away from home and forced to flee with his parents, without in any way paying reference to the appalling refugee crisis that is unfolding.

I phoned my friend, the poet George Szirtes to ask if he might be prepared to write me a poem which could encompass some of these ideas. By complete coincidence, the very day I phoned he was in Hungary, at Budapest railway station talking to the refugees who were stuck there while trying to leave the country. Within days, George sent me a poem that is at once beautiful, eloquent and hard-hitting.


25 November 2015