In Paradisum was commissioned by The Consort of Melbourne for their September 2012 concert ‘To Whomever Finds this Note’. Directed by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus Master Jonathan Grieves-Smith, this concert showcased the composers Samuel Barber, Andrew Anderson, Benjamin Britten, Calvin Bowman, Meg Nelson, CHH Parry and Ugis Praulinš.
The concert featured two premieres, To Whomever Finds this Note (Anderson) and In Paradisum (Nelson). Anderson’s larger work is themed around the 1978 Guyanese commune (informally known as ‘Jonestown’) mass suicide. A plea to understand the complexity of this event was made in an anonymous note left on the day of the suicide, and it is from the eight handwritten pages of this message that Anderson’s text, To Whomever Finds this Note, is drawn. Only in the final line of this text does the word ‘Jonestown’ – with all its associated preconceptions – appear, sung by a solo soprano against the wordless voices of her companions. In Paradisum was commissioned to immediately follow Anderson’s work, to offer contrast and an uplifting alternative to the confronting experience immediately before.
The premiere concert date of 20 September 2012, shares the day with the anniversary of the death of Meg Nelson’s (maternal) grandmother and bears the dedication “To my mum, for her mum”.
The Choir of Trinity College, University of Melbourne, performed In Paradisum numerous times during 2013. The work featured during their Australian tour and was performed at the 8th ICVT (International Congress of Voice Teachers) conference in Brisbane, July 2013.
In August 2014 Brisbane Chamber Choir Fusion have been selected to perform In Paradisum at the World Symposium of Choral Music, in Korea.