Composed in 2000, Charades is a set of seven ‘vocal theatre’ compositions lasting about an hour in total. The performers not only sing, but also use speech and employ other, more unusual, vocal effects. The composer writes: ‘Each piece is a vocal charade of an experience (not a title, as in the game). Each was triggered by something that occurred to me, or that I saw, during the spring and summer of 1998. However the brief personal experiences were only the beginning of the writing process, and the pieces have grown from the thought they reflected to something more general.’ The experiences to which he refers are wide-ranging – watching children painting; listening to contrasting musical styles in South Africa; walking through the Lake District; running a conference. The final Charade, in which the choir encircles the audience, celebrates the miracle of birth.