Richard Blackford - Not In Our Time

'Not In Our Time' - a centenary commission for the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus - was premiered at this year's Cheltenham Festival on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, and explores the concept of religion as a pretext for war with 21st century texts juxtaposed with those of the First Crusade, 1000 years before. In an interview with Edward Seckerson recorded on August 23rd, 2011 for The Independent Online Richard Blackford recalls how this piece came about.



In stock
Catalogue Number


1) Prelude

2) George W. Bush (New York, September 16th. 2001)

3) Adam Gadahn and Ayman Al-Zawahiri (Al Jazeera 2001)

4) Poem: “Not In Our Time” by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)


5) Pope Urban II (Clermont 1095 AD)

6) Hymn: Vexilla Regis

7) Abul-Muzzafar Al-Abyurdi (1099 AD)


8) Fulcher of Chartres (12th. century chronicler)

9) Hymn: Lucis Largitor Splendide


10) Tom Junod (New York, 2003)


11) Chorus: “How Long, O Lord?” (Book of Habbakuk: the Bible)

12) Poem fragment, “I do not know” (Anon, poet of Ma’arra 1098 AD)


13) Mohammed Ben Zeky (following Saladdin’s re-capture of Jerusalem in 1187 AD)

14) Barack Hussain Obama (Cairo University 2009)


"Not in Our Time is a breathtaking and blatant plea for pacifism in a torn world beset with violence, opening with a statement on the global aftershock of the Twin Towers in New York in 2001...This powerful choral and orchestral masterpiece goes beyond the bounds of pure entertainment and its message needs to be heard." Thelma Shaw, FRMS Bulletin, Spring 2014

Reviews of the first performances in Cheltenham and Poole

"Fiercely paced and vividly dramatic, it's a huge sing and a grateful one. It's perfectly designed to stretch the chorus without asking the impossible. …..Out of this melting-pot comes something that speaks for itself, and with tremendous force….And that's the only test: the whole thing worked. Against the odds. Writing this piece was like walking into a minefield, and too hesitant a step – in the interests of subtlety, good taste or whatever – could have been the end of it. But Blackford has proceeded fearlessly, intuitively, maybe rashly, but with confidence in his own craft. Which is considerable. 'Not In Our Time' is a terrific piece whose textual content may cause choirs and audiences to think: is this for us? Emphatically it is. And now it ought to come to London."  Michael White, Telegraph

"'Not In Our Time' stands in a powerful tradition of English oratorios that are highly political and overtly pacifist, drawing upon texts old and new to make the link between the contemporary and specific on the one hand, and the timeless and absolute on the other. I believe what the world needs now is a message of healing, of moderation and shared humanity – and that is precisely what Blackford provides in this new work. It may take a while for his natural optimism to break through, but when it does, it is glorious. Drawing alarming parallels between the Christian-Muslim conflicts of 900 years ago and the comparable miseries of today, he forces his audience to look in the eye a profound, hideous truth: century after century, men abandon their shared humanity all too readily, using religious rhetoric to inspire nauseating atrocities. The texts used are alternately shaming and moving – and both the lyrical inspiration and the orchestration are of the highest level. 'Not In Our Time' is perhaps closer to Tippett than to Britten – rooted in tonality whilst pushing at its boundaries when anger strikes – but both influences are palpably there, without the slightest hint of it being derivative. Invention is all – and there is invention aplenty. This is a paean of and to hope, a proclamation of shared humanity and, above all, a great oratorio for the peacemakers. This is a serious piece, but infinitely rewarding. Frankly, the more people who listen to it, the better, happier and more at peace with itself the world will be."  Michael McManus, Gramophone

© 2010-2023 Wyastone. All Rights Reserved.