‘Backstop, Backstop, Backstop!’: The New, Diverse Protest Music (THE JOURNAL OF MUSIC)

Belfast composer Conor Mitchell, US country groups Front Country and 10 String Symphony, English folk singer Martin Simpson, and Greta Thunberg and The 1975 have all recently released music that engages with current political and climate issues.

Music continues to be released that engages with the major political and environmental issues of our time. The climate emergency has inspired a range of music and song, but the racist policies of the current US president and the tensions caused by Brexit are also influencing new music across genres.

‘Backstop, Backstop, Backstop!’
Belfast composer Conor Mitchell recently premiered his work Lunaria at the Southbank Centre in London. The work is a ‘semi-political piece’ that traces events over the past two years, including the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry, and which also makes specific reference to Brexit. The work builds to a climax where the voices repeatedly sing ‘Backstop, Backstop, Backstop!’ Mitchell says the 15-minute piece, which is influenced by vocal works by Berio, tries to build tension just as ‘we’ve been whipped up into a storm by political events, which can end in the murder of a journalist’. Listen to the performance below. The work was also broadcast (including an interview with the composer) on BBC Radio 3’s New Music Show (from 20.57). It is performed by the Belfast Ensemble