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Snow on Snow by Eleanor Cully Boehringer

Eleanor Cully Boehringer
Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia is made up of over 70 amateur musicians from all walks of life, including artist and composer Eleanor Cully Boehringer. Her composition Snow on Snow will be performed by the Chorus in A Choral Nativity this December. We caught up with Eleanor during rehearsals to find out more about Snow on Snow and her musical inspirations…

Hello Eleanor, thanks so much for talking to us today. Can you tell us a little about your composition Snow on Snow?

Snow on Snow is an ongoing composition for voices and field recording, first written in 2018. I was drawn to a repeated phrase from Christina Rossetti’s poem ‘A Christmas Carol’, famously set to music by Gustav Holst and Harold Darke and known as the Bleak Midwinter. I combined both settings and repeated the phrase over and over. Each time the piece is performed the director and/or singers are able to determine their own trajectories for the repetitions throughout the piece, assembling and disassembling in different formations. I’ve had a lot of fun making three new versions of Snow on Snow for this CoRNS programme.

How long have you been writing choral music and what inspires you?

Snow on Snow was my first choral composition! I came to choral music quite late as a singer – I’d only written instrumental music and a few pieces for solo voice before. Since the opportunity arose to write Snow on Snow for a chamber choir I was part of, I have found myself frequently writing pieces for choirs and children’s choirs – though I’m yet to have those pieces performed.

I work a lot with fragments of traditional songs as well as my own texts. I am drawn to a detail or phrase and zoom into it until I am ready to zoom back out and play with form. Recently I’ve had two solo concerts where I have been performing solo versions of some of my choral ideas. These gigs have been really helpful and I am excited to begin work on my first choral commission soon.

As a member of  Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, how does it feel to have one of your compositions included in their Christmas programme?

I joined CoRNS 9 months ago, a year after moving to the North East, so I am particularly honoured to have found a creative role in the fourth programme I have been part of since joining the choir. Tim recently said that it was special to have a couple of composers as members of CoRNS – this was lovely to hear and I am so glad that I found a choir that is supportive of new ideas and new music.

I am delighted to have my piece included in this Nativity concert – Tim has found numerous ways to make connections between my piece and the rest of the programme and everything has been considered really carefully. I hope we can bring you some magic!

? Listen to Snow on Snow performed by Kantos Chamber Choir 
? Find out more about Eleanor and her work

Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia perform A Choral Nativity on Thursday 1 December at St George’s Church, Cullercoats and Saturday 3 December at St Gabriel’s Church, Heaton. Find out more & book your tickets.