Lost Words: A Spell Book, The

Conductor Notes:

20 distinct movements, characters, tempi and textures mean a challenge for the conductor and singers, but well worth the work. I’m happy to discuss details with anyone performing this incredibly satisfying work. Note that, in addition to the usual performing rights fees due to the composers, when the work is performed as a whole concert with the visuals, there is also a rights agreement required to be signed with David Higham and Associates, with additional financial obligations.

The choir sings from vocal scores and the conductor from a full score in C.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.



I am delighted to report that this work – in its entirety or by separate movements, is now published by Cypress Choral Music in both the original instrumentation and versions for piano accompaniment only.  In either case, the choristers sing from the piano versions.  I am indebted to the composers and especially to Cypress owner Larry Nickel for countless hours of work making this a reality.

This work is a complete concert of 90 minutes featuring 20 original choral compositions, each preceded by a reading of its text and followed by short instrumental “transitions”. Instrumentation for the work is flute doubling piccolo, clarinet doubling bass clarinet, French horn, violin, cello, and percussion including 5-octave marimba.

Commissioned in 2019 and premiered in 2022, this was Elektra’s most ambitious commissioned work to date, and a significant addition to the repertoire for treble choirs.  The work is based on the book by the same name by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris.  We are indebted to them for their enthusiasm for this project and their willingness to let us use their creation as the basis of a new choral work.

This listing deals with the musical parameters of the work. See our “Performances” listing for a fuller description of the concept and concert presentation.

The 20 movements range in duration from 50 seconds to over 4 minutes each, based on the length of its text. Ten Canadian composers each set two of Robert Macfarlane’s “spells”. The choral music itself totals about 50 minutes of music. Difficulties range from a few fairly straightforward movements to several extremely challenging ones, with most falling in between.  There is no reason that this piece could not be sung by an accomplished children’s choir.

See detailed notes on learning each movement at https://tinyurl.com/456pmh2n