The Lesson of the Ice-House (2012) - 4 minutes
Commissioned by Manchester Camerata
for violoncello and drone

Programme Note
Homes, and How to Make Them is an 1875 instructional epistolary novel by Eugene Clarence Gardner designed to give "hints on locating and building a houseā€¦ in letters between an architect and a family man seeking a home". The book succinctly captures the middle-class lifestyle of late nineteenth-century Massachusetts and suggests not only how one should construct their house, but also how they should conduct their life within the home. For me, though, the most evocative part of the book is the titles of the letters. Listed in the table of contents, they read like a found poem telling a surprisingly sad story of optimism, aspiration and loss. The titles of the last twelve of the letters are:

Go to; let us build a tower
Basements and balconies
Four rooms enough
Conveniences and conjectures
The lesson of the ice-house
Shingles, sunshine, and fresh air
Where the doctors differ
How to do it
The breath of life
Eternal vigilance
Saved by conscience
Final and personal

Performance History
November 16, 2012 - Hannah Roberts and the Manchester Camerata, Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford, UK
November 17, 2012 - Hannah Roberts and the Manchester Camerata, The Minster Church of St George, Doncaster, UK
November 24, 2012 - Hannah Roberts and the Manchester Camerata, RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester, UK