We Need No Swords (WNNS): Tell us about the genesis of this project? Was it a commission, or something you were keen on exploring yourself?
Lauren Redhead (LR): This was a project that grew quite organically. The first piece that I wrote was ‘leóþcwide’, which started life as a stand-alone piece just for organ and electronics that came from a Benediction service for organ and electronics that I co-wrote and performed with Automatronic (a collective for organ and electronics I have with organists Huw Morgan and Michael Bonaventure). The texts are from Psalm 4 and Psalm 23, although in the final piece they are obscured.
At the same time I started to be interested in the Anglo-Saxon sources, and so when I turned it into a concert piece I chose the title (meaning lay-poem, I wanted to contrast with the “religious” nature of the original sources) and then I chose a quotation from ‘The Wanderer’ as the programme note that resonated with the original texts. It wasn’t until this piece had been performed a few times that it then became the first of a series.
All of the pieces were created individually, but ‘seo níedhæmestre; se tidfara’ was invited for the 2018 BeastFeast festival in Birmingham, for the organist Mari Fukumoto to play, and ‘ingenga’ came about after an invitation to consider making a piece for an improvising viola da gamba performer.