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Sketches between worlds

Explore Tansy Davies's opera Between Worlds through her own sketches.

'A musically superb meditation on grief and transcendence' – TimeOut

Tansy Davies's orchestral suite What Did We See? – which features on her recent release Nature – weaves together musical material from her seminal opera Between Worlds to become a 'highly charged realisation of the poetic drama we created in response to the events of 9/11.' (Tansy Davies).

Gain an insight into Davies's working process as she shares the sketches she made whilst creating Between Worlds.

Between Worlds tells the story of five key characters who are in an office high in the North Tower of the World Trade Centre. Once the plane has hit, they realise they are trapped together, and are desperate to speak to their loved ones one last time.

In these last words, the characters try to express their most profound feelings – their fear, their courage, their loss, and above all their sincere sense of love.

As the situation deteriorates, the The Janitor – one of the characters trapped in the building – must confront his own fears to help them all to pass through and beyond the terrible abyss before them.

He does this through his vision of the Shaman, a kind of spirit guide who exists in a realm above and beyond the drama of that particular day, and whose role is to transform pain into beauty, through devotion. He is a walker between worlds, a god of messages and transmissions, and a wire-walker across the abyss.

The opera also embraces other aspects and stories of that day, by means of the 20-strong chorus, who witness, question and lament the events as they happen. The libretto’s intersecting stories and the epic dimensions of the score give the opera enormous scale; musically, dramatically, thematically and above all, emotionally.

Ultimately, Between Worlds is a work about courage, grief, love and healing.


Listen to the orchestral suite inspired by Between Worlds on Tansy Davies's first, full orchestral album entitled Nature. Available from the NMC shop and across all streaming services now.

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