Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks

Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks is a 1998 album by the English Sinfonia conducted by Bramwell Tovey. The work, by Michael Nyman, is paired with The Protecting Veil by John Tavener featuring Josephine Knight on the cello. The photography and liner notes indicate that Nyman was directly involved in the album (his 31st), the premiere recording of the work, while Tavener, whose piece, eleven years old at the time of the recording, has been recorded more than once, is represented by a headshot and stock commentary from Richard Steinetz.

Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 1, 1998
RecordedFebruary 23 and 24, 1998
GenreContemporary classical music, minimalist music
LabelCarlton Classics
ProducerMatthew Dilley
Michael Nyman chronology
The Suit and the Photograph
Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks
Practical Magic

Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks

Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks, written in 1997, was commissioned from Nyman by the English Sinfonia. The work he gave them is a five-movement orchestral work based on the String Quartet No. 4, which in turn was based on the solo violin work, Yamamoto Perpetuo.

The title is derived from the name of the town of Stevenage, where the Sinfonia moved in 1997. The Anglo-Saxon name of the town, "Sithenaece" means "Strong on Oaks." Nyman then took a cue from Tony Blair's campaign slogan (in fact coined by Gordon Brown), "Tough on Crime, Tough on the Causes of Crime."

He dedicated the work to Simon Jeffes, founder of the Penguin Café Orchestra, and a friend and colleague. Jeffes died on December 11, 1997. Nyman was orchestrating the final page when he learned of his death, and in honor of him, styled 4-note pizzicato chords in the style of Jeffes's ukulele work.

The Protecting Veil

The Protecting Veil is a work composed by John Tavener in 1987 and premiered in 1989, based on his conversion from the Anglican Church to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is scored for strings with a solo cello, but unlike in a concerto, the cello part is an "endless arch" in the style of music from Byzantium rather than being virtuosic.

Track listing

  1. First movement 3'50"
  2. Second movement 3'30"
  3. Third movement 3'02"
  4. Fourth movement 3'05"
  5. Fifth movement 2'47"
  6. The Protecting Veil 9'35"
  7. The Nativity of the Mother of God 6'26"
  8. The Annunciation 3'33"
  9. The Incarnation 4'32"
  10. The Lament of the Mother of God at the Cross 11'41"
  11. The Resurrection 3'05"
  12. The Dormition 8'18"
  13. The Protecting Veil 3'39"


  • Josephine Knight, cello
  • English Sinfonia
  • Bramwell Tovey, conductor
  • Producer: Matthew Dilley
  • Engineer: Dick Lewzey
  • 20 bit digital recording and post production by Sound Recording Technology, Cambridge
  • Photography: Neil Applegate
  • John Tavener photograph: Catherine Manners
  • Josephine Knight photograph: Clive Barda
  • Liner Notes: English Sinfonia, Michael Nyman, Richard Steinitz

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