Anna Meredith on Anno
The original idea for Anno came from [SE Artistic Director] Jonathan Morton.
We met a few years ago and chatted about this idea of hearing The Four Seasons
in a new context. Jon heard quite a few connections between the way I write and
Vivaldi’s music which I hadn’t previously thought about – but the more I got to
know the material, the more I could see what he meant. The Four Seasons is
a collection of short focused movements, each with a differing and distinctive
sense of character, which is how I try and approach writing.
The aim was never to rework the Vivaldi. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t
want to do that – but instead almost imagine we were all collaborating on making
a piece together.
I think we’re so used to The Four Seasons as a sort of identity in itself that I, for
one, slightly forget about the picture of the calendar year that Vivaldi was trying
to paint. We’ve taken that idea of a year as our guide, and also tried to remove
the Vivaldi-ness (and the Anna/Ellie-ness) from the picture so that everything –
all the music and all the visuals – are working together to create a flow through
The result is a map of this annual journey, created from most, but not all, of
Vivaldi’s movements interspersed with my new material. Sometimes I’ve linked
things together, or added a small electronic element, but mostly the material
stands as it is. The original Four Seasons runs as 12 short, varied movements –
we’ve simply extended and tweaked this format to create something new.
The final combined piece, Anno, runs as 15 short movements, sometimes linked,
sometimes stand-alone. I’ve tried to make sure that each of my own movements
has their own feel and character – just like the Vivaldi – but actually, there are
so many connections running through all the writing that the movements are all
bound together whilst also creating something new.
Composer / producer / performer