And Then Their Hopes Soared (2012)

Duration: 6’
For live piano, with three pre-recorded multi-tracked violins, guitar, and sampled voice
Violin parts played by Katy Barnes
Soprano: Amy Freston
Choreography: Sara Matthews
Design: Richard Gellar
Lighting Design: Ed Railton
First performed at the Hertford Theatre, Hertford in March 2012 as part of the Ballet Central National tour

And Then Their Hopes Soared was the latest collaboration between composer Philip Feeney and regular co-creator, choreographer, Sara Matthews, ex-dancer with Rambert Dance Company and director of the Central School of Ballet in London; for nearly fifteen years they have formed a highly successful creative team, responsible for over ten works for Ballet Central. 

Known for her emblematic ensemble pieces that capture the unique personality of each successive graduating year of dancers, Matthews here has crafted a much more concentrated and translucent work on a smaller scale, using just six dancers. Even so, the choreography possesses all her trademark dynamism, with a host of kaleidoscopic exits and entrances.

That sense of free movement is perfectly encapsulated by Philip Feeney’s light and airy score, for piano, guitar and three multi-tracked violins, with the sampled ethereal voice of soprano, Amy Freston. In a swaying hypnotic 9/8 metre, the repeated guitar notes act as a kind of timeline, over which circular violin phrases gently interweave. 

The flowing live piano part, played by the composer, is made up of an undulating continuum and arpeggios that seem to lie on the backing track as if borne on a current of air. Appropriately so, since both the score and choreography were in fact hatched on a long-haul flight back from Japan, and were directly inspired by the extraordinary views of the Siberian expanse viewed from high up in the stratosphere.

And Then Their Hopes Soared was featured in a series of workshops at the Lowry in Salford, and was also performed at the Olympic Park in London as part of the Cultural Olympiad for London 2012.