Oscillare was commissioned by hcmf// and written for the NEUE VOCALSOLISTEN STUTTGART & FRODE HALTLI (accordion) and had its first performance in Huddersfield in November 2010.

The German premiere was given by the same performers at the ECLAT Festival Stuttgart in February 2011 and was recorded for SWR2 (South-west German Radio)


Text: W.N. Herbert with short extracts taken from Der Zeuger (The Witness) by Jörg Burger (originally featured in Die Zeit Magazin 6.8.2009)


Commission: hcmf//


Duration: 25’


Instrumentation: six singers (SSATB), accordion & recorded text

Cycles of two superimposed texts give fragmented glimpses of two atrocities: one mythical (Erigone hanging herself from the tree under which she found the buried body of her father, Icarius) and one real (the massacre in Srebrenica in 1995, using extracts from an interview with a survivor).

The antiphony of the vocal ensemble and accordion is interrupted each time by the recorded voice, until the repetitions break and there are no words left.

Icarius. Erigone.


Recognition swinging…


unripe fruit

swinging in the trees

tongues dark as plums…


unready harvest

buried in the earth

bones dry as seeds…


© Copyright W.N. Herbert




Extract from Der Zeuger


…out of the bus

onto the meadow…

in front of them lay rows,

always twenty-five…

everyone fell…

the sun burned…

© 2015-2017  Naomi Pinnock