Like many, I had certain pre-conceptions about Milton Keynes when I first approached writing A different kind of urban; however, I have since had the good fortune to be guided into a deeper understanding of the many strands that make up this remarkable town. A recce visit with The Open University Choir conductor Bill Strang and lyricist Judi Moore in February 2017, both long-time residents, opened my eyes to a rich wealth of history when we visited key artefacts of the town (none of which I will divulge here, as it would take away from the excellent narrative of Judi’s lyrics!).
A different kind of urban is in five movements. The first, ‘1: what do we celebrate?’, outlines an introductory scene, whilst ‘2: Up in the air’ and ‘3: Down on the ground’ respectively showcase the work's main themes, inspired by the town's juxtaposition of old and new. The material within these two movements sets the tone for ‘4: In the heart’ and ‘5: An ending, but not the end’, where the themes are revisited, becoming more interlinked until they are at least in part merged at the music’s culmination. The lyrics of ‘4: In the heart’ are interpreted to give a sense of drawing things together, representing a more intimate and proud knowledge of the town.
The use of brass, too, plays a part in a representation of the complex and underlying layers of the town; becoming more substantial as the music progresses, evolving a relationship between choir and brass which in itself changes, just as the town has these past 50 years.