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For St John's College Choir and cellist Laura van der Heijden, commissioned by Andrew Nethsingha in 2018

‘Thirst’, for choir and solo cello, is based on two verses from John’s Gospel: 4:14, and 7:38 — both of which explore the concepts of spirit and living water, and the transition from the earthly to the heavenly. The two texts interweave throughout the piece, with the first acting as the main body, and the second as a complimentary textural counterpart.

‘Thirst’ is both a musical response to these texts, and also an exploration of how rivers of living water and a thirst for resolution might inform musical composition. For the first half of the piece, a multitude of voices create a shifting soundscape of disintegration and coalescence, with motifs often dissolving as soon as they form. Then at the crux of the piece, both choir and cello come together for an ecstatic exclamation on the word ‘life’, and this opens up an entirely new sound world with long, sweeping lines in the choir and a wave-like rise and fall in the cello as we catch a glimpse of the heavenly. The euphoria then dissipates into a much more subdued, retrospective intimacy, as we get the sense of the now, but not yet. Those who the spirit lives within will never thirst, but whilst we remain bound to the earth, we can never fully grasp the implications of the eternal, and its this moment of reflection that the piece ends on.

‘Thirst’ has been performed twice as part of evensong service at St John’s College, and once in the St John's College May Concert in 2019. The piece is performed by St John’s College Choir and cellist Laura van der Heijden, both for whom it was commissioned for by Andrew Nethsingha in 2018.

© 2019 Lara Weaver

Photo below taken from video still, shown below, created by St John's College Cambridge

Screenshot 2021-10-20 at 12.20_edited.jpg

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

From the Gospel of St John 4:14


He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

From the Gospel of St John 7:38

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