Time of the Comet - Lionel Sainsbury
Lionel Sainsbury’s symphonic poem Time of the Comet was composed in 1997 when the Hale-Bopp comet was so spectacularly visible in the Earth’s skies, on its first visit for some 4200 years (its next perihelion will be in c.4385 AD). Sainsbury says that while working on the piece some of its ideas became increasingly associated in his mind with the comet, and with “a wider notion of where it may have travelled on its infinite journey through the universe”. The opening of the work could be thought of as representing the comet’s vigorous and turbulent motion through the cosmos. Its more reflective passages, and especially the slow middle section, might convey the contemplative, even questing response in Man as he views the phenomenon from his own planet. But there is no ‘programme’, and the composer hopes that the work might also be listened to as a purely abstract piece. Indeed, it could be seen as a symphony in one movement, with clear elements of allegro, slow movement, scherzo and finale. The work ends in a blaze of striving optimism. © 2017 Jeremy Nicholas
REFLECTIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS - Clive Muncaster
This composition is structured in arch form where a number of sections or patterns reach a central section, after which the patterns return (reflect) in reverse order. The introductory theme is introduced by the brass and timpani. The melody repeats quietly with just the strings a marimba. The melody is repeated yet once again with just the woodwinds, marimba and vibraphone. Four contrasting patterns follow with varied orchestration until a middle section in reached. A short French Horn melody can be heard just before the end of this section. Thereafter, the four patterns recur in reverse order followed by a coda that begins with a few measures in a minimalist style. The composition is brought to a close with the recapitulation of the opening melody, but this time grandly involving the full orchestra. - Clive Muncaster, Composer
Among the Hidden - Patricia Julien
Among the Hidden grew out of my recent and ongoing exploration of what it means to be hidden, to hide, to conceal. I attempted to depict and embed some of these ideas in the piece. I considered the literal “concealer,” a type of makeup used to hide so-called flaws and bruises. I thought about children experimenting with lying, attempting to hide the truth, and how this can be a type of storytelling and can also represent an effort to create a new reality. I pondered the idea that a flurry of activity and cheer sometimes masks unease. I wondered about the use of a disguise to hide and transform, and I contemplated how hiding is related to privacy. Sometimes hiding is playful as in “peek-a-boo” with babies and “hide and seek” with young children. Sometimes there is comfort in being hidden, in not revealing oneself. Almost always, hiding takes effort. The feeling of invisibility that can result is sometimes thrilling, like tapping into a superhero superpower, and sometimes lonely, a manifestation of being ignored. - Patricia Julien
Fastidious Notes - J.A. Kawarsky
Fastidious Notes, composed for Jonathan Helton, is a ten-minute work that alternates rather “agitated” rhythmic sections with more serene sections (one based upon a reworking of the American folk-song “Goodbye Old Paint”). The composition pays homage to American composer David Conte’s Dance with a disarmingly 5/4 metrical setting. In one listens closely, one may hear echoes of Britten (Rejoice in the Lamb), Copland (Billy the Kid), and perhaps Shostakovich (any piece that has a snare drum in it). As I was taught, and happily pass on to my students, borrow (i.e., stealing) other composer’s ideas and reworking them, is the highest form of flattery. -J.A. Kawarsky
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