This Unquiet Autumn 
for soprano and piano (+ sampler)  Comissioned by Juliet Fraser for The Carson Comissions

“I am a bird lover, cat lover, a fish lover, I’m a priestess of nature, and I’m a devotee of some mystical cult...”

- Rachel Carson, national women’s press conference 1962

Listen here

This Unquiet Autumn takes inspiration from the spoken and the written words of marine biologist, conservationist and writer Rachel Carson. In a quietly urgent re-telling of Carson’s warnings, the piece is both a nod to the stormy reactions and controversy surrounding her seminal book Silent Spring, and a tapestry of fragments of text from her immensely detailed and gently joyful first book, Under the Sea-Wind. In 1962, following the publicity around the publication of Silent Spring, Carson spoke to the National Women’s Press Club: she warned of the gulf in communication between the scientific community and the general public, and the dangerous dilution by the media and industry of scientific knowledge. Carson urged her audience to educate themselves and not to shy away from ‘hard uncomfortable truths’. Six decades later her words still resonate today.

In an assemblage of form, this music is not a narration, nor is it a perfect description of Carson’s legacy. Rather, here is an attempt at an experience: uncomfortable, unfinished and unquiet, quietly humorous, a muttering or pondering on Carson’s own voice set amongst a cyclical rumination on the sea, tidal patterns, journeys from birth to death. And, finally, it is a reflection on my own personal (although not unique) failure to do anything to save the natural world, as we know it, from this wild summer. (Lara Agar)

Performed by Juliet Fraser and Mark Knoop:   

Musica Sacra, Maastrict | 25th September 2021 (world prem.)

Oxford Lieder Festival | October 2021 (uk prem.)

Music We’d LIke to Hear, London | 3rd December 2021

stills from the film, available to watch here.

© LARA AGAR 2023