Composer Gareth Williams on the final part of the 306 Trilogy, which the National Theatre of Scotland and Perth Theatre bought to life over three consecutive years as part of 14-18Now
Way back in 2013, before we had made 306 Dawn and 306 Day, Oliver Emanuel and I knew how 306 Dusk would end. A choir would stand on stage and sing all of the names of the 306 British soldiers shot for cowardice - names that had never been gathered together and read aloud before. So throughout those five years, we knew we had somewhere important to get to.
Over the summer of 2018, I wrote the ten minute choral finale for 306 Dusk, and the names and their rhythms completely consumed me. When I was out for a walk, I’d find my pace in time with the music in my head, “his name was William, his name was Frederic, his name was James”, when I was on the train, the sights out the window were soundtracked “his name was Harry, His name was Patrick, his name was Louis”, and when I was trying to get to sleep,“his name was John, his name was Archibald, his name was Bernard.”
I think I had stopped thinking of them as ‘names’ by the time I had finished - the list had morphed into a musical thing where I tinkered with the melody, the harmony, and the structure of it, even making it last exactly 306 bars.
It took being with the 306 Choir, a fantastic team of singers from across Perthshire, as they would rehearse with Jonathan Gill in the weeks before the opening night of Dusk, to remind me again what it was. They sang each individual name like it was someone they knew and loved - every William was someone special, every James, every Harry, every Louis.
A professional recording of the finale to the trilogy will be released by the National Theatre of Scotland later this year. We will make sure you hear it.
To hear more work by Gareth Williams, click here