"Originally the music was called 'Mystery Play', but I read a poem by Robert Graves and it seemed to embody some of the things that my piece was about and I used that title rather than Mystery Play.

			Extract from 'SECRET THEATRE' by Robert Graves

			When from your sleepy mind the day's burden
			Falls like a bushel sack on a barn floor,
			Be prepared for music, for natural mirages
			And for the night's incomparable parade of colour.

			It is hours after midnight now, a flute signals
			Far off; we mount the stage as though at random
			Boldly ring down the curtain, then dance out our love.

In Secret Theatre, like many Birtwistle pieces, the difference between melody and accompaniment is displayed very clearly by where the musicians stand or sit on the stage. The melody line (cantus), which runs continuously throughout the piece, is sometimes a single line, sometimes parallel lines, sometimes fragmenting lines - but is always clearly distinguished from the accompaniment (continuum) by the fact that the musicians stand up and move to one area of the stage to play it.

"In Secret Theatre I divide the music into two. There is music which is conceived horizontally and music which is conceived vertically. The people who play the music that is conceived horizontally - the tune if you like, stand up and play and the rest of them, playing the vertical music, the accompaniment, are sitting down."

Press the link below to play an extract from Secret Theatre.

Extract courtesy of Etcetera Recordings.

Secret Theatre - Music Details
Written in 1984
Instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon doubling contra.,
trumpet, horn, trombone, percussion,
piano, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass
CD: Etcetera Records B.V. CD number KTC 1052
Played by:The London Sinfonietta, conductor - Elgar Howarth