The Splendour of Lying Naked in the Sun

A spectral song cycle for six a cappella voices, written by Cameron Lam, playfully pondering nudity, self love and our place in the universe. Based on the writing of American author Salvatore Scibona and written for the Divisi Chamber Singers.

Releases May 5, 2023

Melbourne composer Cameron Lam returns with a new song cycle on Australian record label, Kammerklang. Shortlisted for the prestigious Paul Lowin Prize alongside Brett Dean and Elliott Gyger, The Splendour of Lying Naked in the Sun follows from Lam’s acclaimed The Art of Disappearing in creating a sound world that is experimental, expressive, and immensely human.

“Jury members described the work as inventive, original, and impressive in its successful application of a theoretical framework. They were especially delighted with its playful atmosphere.”

-Paul Lowin Prize

Written for Divisi Chamber Singers, this a cappella sextet pays homage to queer spaces, being nude, and self-love of your own unexceptional body. The work was featured in Divisi’s Queer Love Songs program and multiple repeat performances were programmed by Homophonic! as part of 2023’s Midsumma Festival: Australia’s premier LGBTQIA+ cultural festival.

The text is drawn from a New York Times article by award-winning American novelist, Salvatore Scibona. The original article muses broadly from slow summer college days, to photosynthesis, to how it feels so peaceful to bask in the violence of a nuclear reactor. The four movements capture this breadth of emotion playfully across chants, chorales, and even minimalist chemistry.

Sonically, The Splendour of Lying Naked in the Sun is inspired by the work of American composer Ben Johnson who used just intonation as a launching pad into spectralism and microtonal writing. This extended palette of harmonics and tunings, gives rise to new melodies and harmonies while remaining singable. Refined over multiple rehearsals, the cycle shows off the masterful technical and expressive ability of Divisi in achieving a style that Lam calls “alien, yet beautiful”.


Composer: Cameron Lam
Author: Salvatore Scibona

Divisi Chamber Singers:
Soprano: Marjorie Butcher
Mezzo Soprano: Renee Herron
Countertenor: Alex Ritter
Tenor: Anish Nair
Baritone: Alex Gorbatov
Bass: Bailey Montgomerie  

Recorded by: David Collins
Mixed and Mastered by: Jayson McBride
Executive Producer: Cameron Lam

Record Label: Kammerklang
Cover Art: Cameron Lam
Graphic Design: Luke Moseley

About the Composer:

Cameron Lam (he/they) is Melbourne-based composer, obsessive dabbler, excitable research nerd, and joyful collaborator. He creates music-based works that connect multiple artforms (and hopefully multiple humans) with his production company/record label Kammerklang and on other freelance projects. They are also a passionate curator and champion of the Australian art music community, running the Australian Art Music playlist on Spotify and in their role as Art Music Lead at the APRA AMCOS.

His music has been described by Limelight Magazine as “a fantastical world in which mythological stories come to life” and “infused with a Northern European sensibility – dark, emotional, restrained”. Cameron excels at vocal and chamber music where each performer has agency and a chance to contribute to collective art making. This has most recently led to being shortlisted for Australia’s prestigious Paul Lowin Prize for their spectral a cappella song cycle about getting naked and loving your queer self, The Splendour of Lying Naked in the Sun.


Divisi Chamber Singers is a youth-led, not-for-profit organisation that supports early-career creative artists. We strive to break down established norms of classical music through commissioning and performing innovative creative works and projects. At heart, Divisi is a chamber vocal ensemble with a focus on the career development of its members, and of other Australian creatives.

Due to the relative lack of queer representation in classical music, we maintain a special interest in initiatives that elevate local LGBTQ+ artists. To this end, our ensemble has launched its inaugural professional development program, Compose Queer, which commissions four young queer composers to write for Divisi, and provides workshopping and development opportunities from LGBTQ+ industry professionals. Such projects give agency and professional development to composers and our members, accelerating their musical success. Divisi also maintains an active interest in pushing boundaries within the largely conservative medium of classical music performance.

  • The Sun Came Out

A dreamy reminiscence of the author’s college days and first days of Spring – languidly wanting to soak up mild heat and sunlight all over. “resenting no one and nothing except my clothes, which I badly wanted to take off”

I. The Sun Came Out
Twenty-five years ago, after a long and dismal winter of leaden skies, the sun came out.

[…] Barefoot, I left the dorm. The heat was mild and glorious. My classmates, in various states of undress, lay splayed on stone benches, talking softly or napping in clumps like seals while the dirty snow melted around them. I sat on the sun-soaked concrete steps of the dorm, needless of any possessions, resenting no one and nothing except my clothes, which I badly wanted to take off.
-from The Splendors of Lying Naked in the Sun, Salvatore Scibona

  • The Desire

becomes sinuous and yearning as we delve headfirst into the desire to be naked in the sun, “it feels as innate and universal as thirst”. The singers slide and blur into each other creating rippling layers in this energetic short movement.

II. The Desire
This would become a theme, the desire to be naked in the sun. Maybe there once lived some hopeless person who never had the urge, but it feels as innate and universal as thirst.

[…] When you sunbathe naked, you are subjecting yourself to the same condition and to the same star as every creature that ever crept or crawled into the daylight without recourse to underpants. The pleasure is both carnal and otherworldly. Nothing civilization has to offer can compete.
-from The Splendors of Lying Naked in the Sun, Salvatore Scibona

  • Blood Red, Leaves Green

The author notes “haemoglobin and chlorophyll resemble each other almost exactly” that what makes our blood red, lets plants ‘eat the sunshine’. The third movement, Blood Red, Leaves Green zooms in and out telescopically; from atoms to cells to larger thoughts, all in a bed of playful minimalism.

III. Blood Red, Leaves Green
[…] That year, I learned in a reading group that the molecular structures of hemoglobin and chlorophyll resemble each other almost exactly. In both molecules, more than a hundred atoms of hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and carbon are arranged in identical concentric rings that surround a single atom of metal.

In hemoglobin, the atom is iron; in chlorophyll, the atom is magnesium. The molecule that makes our blood red and brings oxygen to our cells is nearly the same as the one that makes leaves green and allows them to create a plant’s food from carbon dioxide, water and light.
-from The Splendors of Lying Naked in the Sun, Salvatore Scibona

  • Hiding Nothing

The final movement is both personal and cosmic, spacious and spiritual, full of silence and rich harmonic textures. The author puts it best: “Your unexceptional body, your only creature — is living its only life. Right now. Hiding nothing from the ongoing explosion that started it and sustains it.”

IV. Hiding Nothing
[…] But the question remains why prostrating oneself naked to a fusion reaction of unimaginable violence can produce a feeling of such perfect peace.

When the sun is blazing and privacy allows, I sometimes take it all off and let the sun have at me. […] Your unexceptional body, your only creature — formed like everyone else’s in dependence on the particular spectrum of radiation emitted by this star — is living its only life.

Right now. Hiding nothing from the ongoing explosion that started it and sustains it. Sun, mind and body in agreement.
-from The Splendors of Lying Naked in the Sun, Salvatore Scibona