The Driver

Is this how it ends for all of us?
love born at festivals
in chemicals and poetry
love that lived beyond our bodies
love that conquered motorways and calendars
love that conquered half of England
is this how it ends?

from The Driver, by Luke Wright

The Driver is a meditation of love, loss and England by poet Luke Wright, set to music composed by Benjamin Oliver. The poetry is in the first person, our protagonist is a performer condemned to drive from gig to gig, taking in the liminal spaces that link communities, always on the outside looking in. As The Driver experiences the highs and lows of England – the service stations, retails parks, lay-bys and coastline – memories of a long-distance love affair are triggered. We see the relationship unfold, from the early throws of ecstasy to the dull reality of trying to keep something going when you are separated by hundreds of miles of motorway and the limitations of the human body. There is a glimmer of hope at the end as the power of existing peacefully in one’s solitude, and the joy of keeping moving win through.

Composed for Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Synth, Drum Kit, Percussion, Viola, Doublebass and Narrator Luke Wright, this piece brings together Riot Ensemble’s passion for cross-arts collaboration with our central mission of commissioning the most exciting emerging voices in new music. Benjamin Oliver was selected as one of the first winners of our annual Call for Scores, and we travelled to the University of Southampton – where Ben is the head of music – for a two day workshop with Luke in September 2019. These audio samples come from that day.