World-famous composers and musicians unite for special Mayflower performance

Jan 29, 2020

Some Call it Home is an exciting new multi-media music drama which arrives at Theatre Royal Plymouth this spring and forms a key part of the Mayflower 400 commemorative cultural programme.

Part of the Musica Viva concert series, this contemporary classical music performance on 24 and 25 March will respond to the arrival of the Mayflower passengers in modern-day Massachusetts in 1620.

It will will explore the Native American and European settler philosophies of land stewardship and land ownership, before going on to examine how colonisation has affected climate change and led to migration on a global basis.

In an unusual move for a classical music piece Robert Taub, the internationally-renowned concert pianist, has brought on two composers to work collaboratively on Some Call it Home. They are the internationally-recognised Jonathan Dawe and Jane O’Leary, who is a direct descendant of Mayflower passenger Richard Warren.

An ensemble of musicians from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Grammy-nominated baritone Randall Scarlata and Grammy Award-winning soprano Deborah York will perform their original musical score.

The musical score will be complemented by a libretto and multi-media element, featuring archival material from the British Museum, photography and a video shot by a human smuggler in the Sahara Desert in 2017 that has never before been publicly exhibited.

Through its libretto, score, and visuals, Some Call it Home will reflect on moments in American and British history in which our relationship with land and Earth shifted, and feature historical quotes from 1620 to the present day.

With quotes from William Bradford, President Thomas Jefferson, President Andrew Jackson, Robert Oppenheimer and a human smuggler, Some Call it Home will explore:

  • Arrival: The migration and arrival of the Mayflower passengers in modern-day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode in 1620.
  • Expansion: The Louisiana Purchase of 1805, which enabled post-colonial expansion of the America and subsequent purchases of more land inhabited by those who did and do not believe that land can be owned.
  • Manifest Destiny: The use of the concept of Manifest Destiny by President Andrew Jackson in 1830 to justify the expansion of towns and farms in America at the expense of forests and land stewardship by Native Americans.
  • The Atomic Bomb: The development of the atomic bomb in 1945 by Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. Obtaining uranium, the critical ingredient for the bomb, necessitated mining in previously pristine areas of the American West.
  • Migration: A reflection on today’s global migration crisis and those driven from their homes by climate change, with insight from a human smuggler.
  • View from the Moon: What those who went out to photograph potential Moon landing sites for Apollo 11 saw when they looked back at the Earth in 1968. Apollo 8 crew member Bill Anders said at the time: "We set out to explore the Moon and instead discovered the Earth […] We are all, together, stewards of this fragile treasure."

Robert Taub, creator and director of Some Call it Home and music director at The Arts Institute, University of Plymouth, said: "I asked myself, what from 1620 is vitally relevant to us all today? I believe it’s our relationship to land, and the conflicts that began immediately upon the Mayflower’s arrival in the New World.

"The critical question is whether we care for the land, or claim it to use in any way that we see fit? I chose quotations from 1620 to the present for the libretto. O’Leary and Dawe’s music brings to life the drama inherent in the quotes and in the actions they portray, and the visual component - illustrations, photos, video - ties together a complete stage experience.

"I hope that the audience is moved and entertained, and that they leave with hopefulness of how we can all better look after planet Earth - our home - together."

Jane O’Leary, co-composer of Some Call it Home added: "Working on the music for Some Call it Home has had special resonance for me as a direct descendant of Richard Warren, a Mayflower passenger in 1620. I am very excited to visit Plymouth for the first time in March to see the place where the boat sailed from.

"It’s been a fascinating experience to collaborate with Robert and Jonathan on this project, bringing to life various scenes from the past 400 years as man continued to search for new homes – across the sea, across desserts, into space. Each scene brings a new perspective to the idea of ‘home’, with its own special musical atmosphere."

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