Performances of Benjamin Till's 'Nene'

From 2017 to 2018 we are proud to have presented three performances of Benjamin Till's "Nene", a new work, charting the course of the river Nene and celebrating the people and places of the river valley, as it flows from Badby to the sea.

River Nene

There were three performances of Nene:

  • Music for Youth Proms: Royal Albert Hall, 14 November 2017
  • Derngate Big Sing: Nene, 8 March 2018
  • Peterborough Cathedral Big Sing: Nene, 17 March 2018
The performances included members of the County Youth Orchestra, County Youth Choir, County Youth Brass Band and a massed choir of singers from partner schools in Northamptonshire, Peterborough and Rutland. Over 1600 young people were involved in this project.

NMPAT presents Benjamin Till's Nene

This documentary, created by our partners Screen Northants, tells the story of the creation of the piece and its three performances. It includes a complete performance of the full work with footage from rehearsals and performances in the Royal Albert Hall, Derngate and Peterborough Cathedral.


Royal Albert Hall Premiere: 14 November 2017

The premiere performance was at the Music for Youth Proms in the Royal Albert Hall and featured a shorter version of the piece. Video footage courtesy of Black Swan Film and Video.


BBC Documentary about the Composition of Nene

The Albert Hall performance was featured by the BBC Look East on their Inside Out programme.


About the Nene Project

Nene celebrates the people, places and history of the River Nene, and is based on two folk melodies: one from the Badby Morris Men, who hail from the source of the river and one collected by Vaughan Williams on the Fens. We hear the gentle beginnings of the river as it flows to Northampton, memories of the Northampton Power Station cooling towers and the sound of red kites high in the air. In Wellingborough an April Fools' joke from the 1950s is remembered with the words "I must fly". A gentle melody represents Higham Ferrers, the childhood home of the composer and in Woodford we hear the beautiful lament of a First World War soldier heading to war.

In Oundle we hear the Drumming Well and the distant sound of the Nassington Brass Band, and as we reach Fotheringhay, we hear the geese on the river and the haunting last words of Mary Queen of Scots before her execution. Then we approach Wansford and the Peterborough Steam Railway, built in 1845. As the river flows out onto the Fens we hear the tragic story of Molly, who was lost in the river, but who we hear as a Will’o the Wisp, “guiding the wearisome traveller home.”

In Wisbech the sounds of the Carillon form the setting for a poem by John Clare. Here the tidal river can be seen, and heard, flowing backwards. King John’s army arrive as we approach Sutton Bridge, where the Crown Jewels were lost in the marshes. Then the river finally empties itself into the Wash at the tumultuous end of its 123 mile journey.

Composer Benjamin Till grew up near the river and was a member of the Northamptonshire County Youth Orchestra and County Youth Choir performing at the Schools Proms in the early 1990’s. After further studies he became a professional composer, with a particular interest in Musical Theatre. He selected Nene as the subject matter and embarked on a solo six day adventure to walk the entire length of the river. The resulting composition features many of the sounds and experiences collected on his trip; a true personal odyssey of discovery.


But our Molly lives on as a Will' O the Wisp
Dancing and playing on the fens in the mist
And lighting the paths when the ways are not known
And guiding the wearisome traveller home. "


Nene is being presented by NMPAT and Rutland music with the assistance of the following partners:

We also acknowledge financial support from:

  • Arts Council England, Grants for the Arts
  • Northamptonshire Community Foundation, The Compton Fund
  • D'Oyly Carte Opera Trust
  • Nenescape - Heritage Lottery funded
  • The Gordon Robinson Trust, Nigel Cobb Fund