In Albert Camus’ The Stranger, the Meursault is on trial for murdering an Arabic man in French Algiers. The trial, however, becomes an examination of his personality and his refusal to follow social norms. He is given the death penalty. In Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, a Pakistani cab driver, after a micro aggression, insults a white woman in a polyamorous relationship with two other white men. The two men physically and verbally assault the cab driver until he is almost dead.
The loss in the title does not specifically refer to a death. It refers to a loss of supposed ‘identity’ or ‘pride’ too (and of course whatever else springs to your mind). During the Brexit referendum, we heard a lot about Britain 'taking back control' and restoring the identity it was losing. What identity does Britain have? Is this an island of prosperity and ‘world-beating’ developments? Or is this an island seething with xenophobic violence?
I feel like two United Kingdoms exist presently: one is the fiction of the privileged, the other is the truth. After the murder of George Floyd, the white people of Britain (including me) exclaimed how fortunate we were not to live in America, caught up in our own privileged delusions. We went to BLM protests and now, a few months later, are we really doing anything differently to before? A huge proportion of western classical music is no different; we took the time to find composers of colour and now that we have found perhaps four or five black composers, we have congratulated ourselves, and stopped looking.
People here are disgusted by the treatment of queer people in other countries, yet fail to recognise the rampant homophobia and transphobia of this island. A BBC article launched an attack against trans women, an article featuring a survey of 80 people (laughable even for GCSE Maths standards) and comments from someone who subsequently called for trans people to be lynched. The Times published a letter openly naming, abusing and misgendering a trans father who gave birth. Is this transphobia new? No, these are just a few recent examples. We also can’t forget that an anti-trans hate group, the LGBA, was not only given charity status, but was also at the Tory party conference.
The way these real-life examples differ from the fictional is quite simply that Meursault and the cab driver did something wrong (whether or not they deserved the violence is for you to decide) whereas the people in real life simply existed. The similarities lie, however, in the fact that a self-appointed jury deem themselves to be righteous and correct, that they have done the right thing. Am I then, for that matter, any different? Is this piece going to change the world? Is it going to change anything even? Probably not.
The players in this piece are given a pre-answered choice: they can exist truthfully as themselves and be attacked, or they can sacrifice their identity in order to please the community, the jury.
Composer: Ynyr Pritchard
Ynyr Pritchard is a Maltese-Welsh composer and performer based in North Wales. In his music he enjoys taking inspiration from and paraphrasing/re-creating/re-contextualising works of literature, film and sometimes music from the classical cannon to ask the personal and political questions of today. He has studied with Jeffrey Lewis, Larry Goves and Calliope Tsoupaki at the Junior RNCM and the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. This year, Ynyr was commissioned to write a piece to compliment Annea Lockwood's Piano Drowning as part of international performances of her Piano Transplants. The piece, played by Xenia Pestova Bennett and Ynyr himself, was presented as part of ISSUE Project Room's Benefit Gala celebrating Lockwood in New York. Ynyr is also developing a larger role for theatricality in his music and is developing an aural noir film to be premiered next year.