Nick Planas

Composer and musician

Home All completed works Large ensemble Advanced That man may learn to listen (Overture – 2011)

That man may learn to listen (Overture – 2011)

This short orchestral work was commissioned by the Banbury Symphony Orchestra, to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. It was premiered at a celebratory concert on November 19th 2011 at St.Mary's Church, Banbury. My intention with this work was to celebrate, not so much the passing of 50 years of the Orchestra, but more to celebrate the  making of music in all its forms by all people, but especially by those who enjoy the process whether as professional players, or amateur musicians.

The scoring (see next page) is unusual in containing three soprano voices, who not only sing and recite poetry, but make sounds into their microphones as part of the orchestral sound palette. They are not more or less important than the orchestra, they are part of it. There is also an optional part for the theremin (the first true electronic instrument), which is primarily an alternative to the three voices.

The texts used in this work are a quote by Sarah Martha Baker (a line of which gives the work its title), and an extract from one of Tennyson’s well known poems:

The Universe is always singing,
That man may learn to listen,
So that his heart may join the universal chorus.   

Sarah Martha Baker 1887 - 1917

There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.

extract from "The Lotos-Eaters"

Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809 - 1892

Orchestration: WW 3fl (2&3picc) / 2Ob (2nd ad lib) CA / 2Cl 1BCl. / 2Bsn Cbsn (ad lib)

BRASS: 4Hn 3Tpt 3Trb Tuba (ad lib)

PERCUSSION (3 players) Timps / Untuned / Mallets 

HARP (ad lib) CELESTA (ad lib) THEREMIN (ad lib - to replace singers) 3 SOPRANOS (with microphones)


This music has been composed bearing in mind the varying size of the orchestra depending on available forces. Where an “ad lib.” part is essential, it has been cued into other parts. Every performance will therefore be unique - entirely fitting and in keeping with the original concept.

To hire the score and parts for performance, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.