Symphonic Chronicles Vol III

Peter Dickson Lopez composer
Lawrence Mumford composer
David Eccott composer
Samuel A. Livingston composer
Tyler Goodrich White composer
Nina Feric composer
Antonín Dvořák composer

Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík conductor
Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Stanislav Vavřínek conductor
Brno Contemporary Orchestra | Pavel Šnajdr conductor
Strings of the London Symphony Orchestra | Miran Vaupotić conductor

Release Date: June 14, 2024
Catalog #: NV6624
Format: Digital
21st Century
Romantic
Orchestral
Orchestra

Embracing the same spirit of innovation and artistic exploration that captivated audiences in its previous installments, SYMPHONIC CHRONICLES VOL III unites a diverse assembly of today’s leading composers and performers. This edition offers listeners a variety of themes and moods to explore, from perspectives of an ancient civilization to Croatian folklore, remembrance of those we’ve lost, odes to the tranquility and vastness of our natural world, and more. Performed by several celebrated ensembles, each piece in this Navona Records release lends a fresh perspective and unique voice to the celebrated tradition of classical orchestral music.

Listen

Hear the full album on YouTube

An Inside Look

An inside look at the recording of Tales from Croatia: Fairies at Play and Jure and the Sea – Rhapsody for Orchestra with composer Nina Feric.

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Song of Thirteen Moons: III. Serenade Peter Dickson Lopez Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 9:57
02 In Golden Light Lawrence Mumford Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 7:53
03 Lullingstone: V Nymphaeum et Chi-Rho: I. Nymphs Bathing and Dancing. David Eccott Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 3:09
04 Lullingstone: V Nymphaeum et Chi-Rho: II. Song of the Nymphs David Eccott Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 2:36
05 Lullingstone: V Nymphaeum et Chi-Rho: III. Chi-Rho David Eccott Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 2:51
06 Song for a Rainy Day Samuel A. Livingston Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra | Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor 5:15
07 The Four Elements: I. Earth (Intrada Fantasy) Tyler Goodrich White Brno Contemporary Orchestra | Pavel Šnajdr, conductor 4:22
08 The Four Elements: II. Water Waltz Tyler Goodrich White Brno Contemporary Orchestra | Pavel Šnajdr, conductor 4:54
09 The Four Elements: III. Air – An Elegy Tyler Goodrich White Brno Contemporary Orchestra | Pavel Šnajdr, conductor 8:14
10 The Four Elements: IV. Fire Finale Tyler Goodrich White Brno Contemporary Orchestra | Pavel Šnajdr, conductor 4:38
11 Tales from Croatia: Fairies at Play Nina Feric Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 3:26
12 Jure and the Sea – Rhapsody for Orchestra Nina Feric Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava | Jiří Petrdlík, conductor 4:41
13 Nocturno In B Major Op. 40 Antonín Dvořák Strings of the London Symphony Orchestra | Miran Vaupotić, conductor; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello 7:51

Tracks 1-5
Recorded November 21-23, 2023 at Vesmír Concert Hall in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák
Assistant Engineer Adam Janků
Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Additional Editing & Mixing Melanie Montgomery (Track 2)

Track 6
Recorded September 22, 2023 at Reduta Hall in Olomouc, Czech Republic
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Jana Jelínková
Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Additional Editing & Mixing Melanie Montgomery

Tracks 7-10
Recorded October 3-4, 2023 at The Orlí Street Theatre Studio in Brno, Czech Republic
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák, Jana Jelínková
Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Additional Editing & Mixing Melanie Montgomery

Tracks 11 & 12
Recorded September 11, 2023 at Vesmír Concert Hall in Ostrava, Czech Republic
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák, Pavel Kunčar
Assistant Engineer Adam Janků
Editing & Mixing Jan Košulič
Additional Editing & Mixing Lucas Paquette

Track 13
Recorded July 6-7, 2022 at LSO St Lukes in London, United Kingdom
Session Producer Jan Košulič
Session Engineer Jonathan Stokes, Neil Hutchinson
Editing Lucas Paquette

Mastering Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

VP of A&R Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan, Chris Robinson, Jeff LeRoy

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Manager Martina Watzková
Production Assistant Adam Lysák

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Chelsea Kornago
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Peter Dickson Lopez

Composer

As an internationally performed composer, Peter Dickson Lopez traces his musical roots to a broad range of influences from his tenure as a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, as a Tanglewood (USA) Fellowship Composer, and as recipient of the George Ladd Prix de Paris (1976-78). The eclectic nature of Lopez’s mature style stems no doubt from having worked directly with composers of diverse approaches and philosophies during his early years at Berkeley and Tanglewood: with Joaquin Nin Culmell, Andrew Imbrie, Edwin Dugger, Olly Wilson, Earle Brown at UC Berkeley (1972-1978); and with Ralph Shapey and Theodore Antoniou during his Fellowship at Tanglewood (1979). Even more influential to Lopez’s artistic development was his residence in Paris where he had the opportunity to listen to many live concerts of contemporary European composers as well as to attend numerous events at IRCAM.

Lawrence Mumford

Lawrence Mumford

Composer

Lawrence Mumford's music, published by eight different companies, has premiered in cities across the country. Movements from his Symphony No. 4 have recently become a part of  the broadcast libraries of the largest classical radio stations in Boston, Washington DC,  Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities, and have been played repeatedly — even  being included in two stations’ “Ultimate Playlist.” This music is also available on major streaming services including Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. 

David Eccott

Composer

David Eccott lives and works as a peripatetic instrumental music teacher, specializing in piano and brass in his home county of Kent in England. He studied trombone with Denis Wick, former principal trombone with the London Symphony Orchestra, and piano with Robert Collett at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He has worked as an orchestral freelance trombonist and was an examiner for The Associated Board of The Royal Schools of Music for 23 years. He also composes. His Concertino For Oboe And Small Orchestra and his symphonic poem Rochester Creek: Scenes From PreColumbian Utah for large orchestra have recently won online composition competitions.

Samuel A. Livingston

Composer

Samuel A. Livingston was born in 1942, and served from 1966-1967 with the U.S. 4th Armored Division Band. Livingston currently resides in New Jersey and plays the clarinet in a community band, traditional jazz groups, and chamber music groups. As a composer, he is entirely self-taught. His recent (21st century) compositions include works for concert band and several chamber pieces, mostly for wind instruments.

Tyler Goodrich White

Composer

Tyler Goodrich White is Professor of Conducting and Composition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he has served as Director of Orchestras since 1994.  Under White’s direction, the UNL Symphony has been recognized as one of America’s outstanding collegiate orchestras.  As a composer, White has received commissions from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, and numerous other organizations.  He was awarded a Silver Medal in the 2019–2020 Global Music Awards, and in 2020 he was awarded The American Prize for Orchestral Composition.  White currently serves as Composer-in-Residence of Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra.

Nina Feric

Composer

Nina Feric, born in Zagreb, Croatia, began her musical studies at the age of 6. She obtained her Master of Music Degree in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy from the Music Academy of the University of Zagreb (Croatia) in the class of Prof. Veljko Glodic, and continued her studies at Postgraduate Course in Music Disciplines at DAMS Bologna (Italy). 

Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava

Orchestra

The Janáček Philharmonic is a world-class symphony orchestra based in Ostrava, Czech Republic and an emerging figure on the international performance scene. With over 100 top-level musicians, the orchestra aims to introduce unique, quality repertoire while showcasing their own recognizable sound.

Jiří Petrdlík

Conductor

Jiří Petrdlík (b. 1977) is appreciated as one of the most respectable conductors of his generation. He studied piano, trombone, and conducting — 1995–2000 at Prague Conservatory, and 2000–2005 at Academy of Performing Arts Prague — with Hynek Farkač, Miroslav Košler, Miriam Němcová, Radomil Eliška, and Tomáš Koutník, and took part in the masterclasses of the New York Philharmonic Principal Conductor Kurt Masur and the BBC Philharmonic Principal Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. Petrdlík also successfully took part in several competitions, including the Donatella Flick Conductor Competition in London.

Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra

Orchestra

The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the foremost and oldest symphony orchestras in the Czech Republic. It is based in the historical capital of Moravia, the city of Olomouc, and has been a leader of music activities in the region for the past 70 years. Its artistic development was directly influenced by distinguished figures from the Czech and international music scene.

Stanislav Vavřínek

Conductor

Stanislav Vavřínek is one of the most prominent Czech conductors and has been Chief Conductor of the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice since 2018. Having graduated from the Conservatory in Brno where he studied flute and conducting, he continued his education at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Subsequently, he also took master classes with Roberto Benzi in Switzerland, culminating with a concert in which he conducted the Biel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Brno Contemporary Orchestra

Brno Contemporary Orchestra

Orchestra

The Brno Contemporary Orchestra (BCO) was founded in 2011 with the aim of performing the world’s contemporary music and selected 20th-century works in Czechia and Czech music throughout the world. The ensemble includes top-level professional musicians employed in the leading Czech orchestras. It draws on a large pool of permanent collaborators who perform in various lineups according to the needs of each project.

Pavel Šnajdr

Conductor

Pavel Šnajdr is a Czech conductor and composer. He is a graduate of the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU), Brno in composition (which he studied with Alois Piňos) and conducting (with Emil Skoták). Beyond working with symphony orchestras, he has been engaged by music theatres including the J.K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, the Prague State Opera and the Moravian Theatre in Olomouc, and currently conducts opera at the National Theatre in Brno.

London Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra

Orchestra

Widely acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, The London Symphony Orchestra was named by Gramophone as one of the top five orchestras in the world. A world-leader in recording music for film, television, and events, it was the official orchestra of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games ceremonies, memorably performing Chariots of Fire on stage in the opening ceremony, conducted by Simon Rattle and with Rowan Atkinson.

Miran Vaupotić

Conductor

Acclaimed as “dynamic and knowledgeable” by the Buenos Aires Herald, Croatian conductor Miran Vaupotić has worked with eminent orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Berliner Symphoniker, the Russian National Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Budapest Symphony Orchestra MÁV, Orchestre de Chambre de Genève, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Argentina, and others, performing in major halls around the globe such as Carnegie Hall, Wiener Musikverein, Berliner Philharmonie, Rudolfinum, Smetana Hall, Victoria Hall, Forbidden City Concert Hall, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Dubai Opera, Tchaikovsky Hall, International House of Music, CBC Glenn Gould Studio, and more.

Ovidiu Marinescu

Cellist, Composer

Ovidiu Marinescu is internationally recognized as a cellist, composer, conductor, and educator. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Weill Hall, Merkin Hall (New York), the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Holywell Room in Oxford, Oriental Art Center in Shanghai, and has appeared as soloist with the London Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, the National Radio Orchestra of Romania, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Helena, Great Falls, Portsmouth, and Newark Symphonies, Southeastern Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Philharmonic, Limeira Symphony in Brazil, Orquesta de Extremadura in Spain, and most of the professional orchestras in his native Romania. The album LONDON CELLO CONNECTION features Marinescu and London Symphony Orchestra in eight newly commissioned cello concertos by North American composers.

Notes

While browsing through historical family records, I came upon an elementary school project of my son, Peren, which was a collection of his own poems and drawings describing and illustrating various moons, such as the Harvest Moon, of which there were 13. Although tempted to use these poems and drawings as the basis for a work, I decided instead to write a work reflecting my own memories and feelings during the childhood years of my son as shared with my beloved wife, Irene. Irene passed away in 2022, so on another level, “Serenade” (and in fact the entire Song of Thirteen Moons), is also an homage to Irene. Thus, Song of Thirteen Moons is not about moons per se, but rather embodies a metaphorical reflection of my inner life during this time.

“Serenade” begins with broad, yet sensitive, melodic fragments, performed by a solo French Horn, played in succession and with each fragment followed by a gentle string response. Though this movement is not intended as a romantic serenade, I imagine the string response to be a kind of heart-flutter comment on hearing the preceding “Serenade” fragment, invoking feelings of remembrance, longing, love, and joy, yet always with an undertone of poignancy in quiet contemplation. The conversation thus introduced in the opening few measures will take on larger-than-life dimensions from time to time as emotions ebb and flow throughout the movement.

Song of Thirteen Moons is an orchestral work scored for medium orchestra. This work belongs to a category of my works which leverages traditional methodologies, meaning simply that the instrumentation and compositional tools and techniques used are those inherited and developed from the Common Practice period of Western European music. To be sure, there are hints of an evolved tonality, advanced metric framework, timbre construction, dynamic language, and stratification of texture layers in this work, all of which stand out as quintessential elements of my current style. Yet the core language of Song of Thirteen Moons consists of easily recognizable melodies, harmonies, and rhythms. The extent to which these traditional methodologies in the piece merge seamlessly with aspects of my larger evolved style reflects my propensity to use disparate compositional approaches. This preference for combining different approaches exemplifies my broader compositional aesthetic of hybridization which is a view that the joining of different approaches will result in something greater than the individual approaches by themselves. Song of Thirteen Moons is a multi-movement work of which “Serenade” is the third.

— Peter Dickson Lopez

“In Golden Light” is the final movement of the composer Lawrence Mumford’s Symphony No. 4. The piece is intentionally lyrical, manipulating a series of original melodies. The first is intended to evoke, perhaps, a western naturescape like the Sierra Nevada of California. The second, which is derived from the first, may evoke less a specific image than a yearning for the tranquility of the unspoiled outdoors in general, especially in early evening when the fading light seems to make every natural feature come alive.

The piece complements and concludes three other movements entitled “Hope and a Future,” “Of Times and Seasons,” and “Sacrifice.” Thus the subtext for the entire symphony might be a description of our times: an optimism that, through perseverance, long periods of doubt and trial will lead to a brighter future.

It needs to be understood that Lullingstone: “Nymphaeum et Chi-Rho” is the final movement of a five movement work lasting 30 minutes in total. The title of the complete work is Lullingstone: Five Symphonic Dramatizations Commemorating the Roman Villa at Lullingstone. It is scored for a large orchestra consisting of triple woodwind, full brass, tuned and untuned percussion, celeste, harp, and strings. As the title suggests, the work is a portrayal, in the form of a musical narrative, of certain features of a Roman villa in England, as well as specific events related to that particular villa which occurred during the early centuries A.D.

I shall briefly describe the content of the first four movements, followed by a more detailed analysis of the 5th movement which was recorded by the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava Orchestra November 23, 2023. To begin with, however, some scene-setting and history are necessary, but for readers who prefer to go directly to the description of the final movement, please proceed to the section entitled “The Fifth Movement.”

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE VILLA AT LULLINGSTONE
A Roman villa was typically a townhouse (villa urbana) or country house (villa rustica). The villa at Lullingstone would have been classed as a villa rustica; a farmhouse devoted to small-scale agriculture, but lavishly furnished and decorated with heated residential accommodation for the owner. It was built in the 1st century A.D. during the Roman occupation of Britain and sits on a terrace cut into the hillside on the west bank of the River Darent, a tributary of the River Thames, at the present day hamlet of Lullingstone, (from which it takes its modern name), near the village of Eynsford in the county of Kent, south-east England. The Darent’s subterranean groundwaters bubble into our world from a network of at least seven springs located south of Westerham, which lies six miles west of Sevenoaks. From its source, the river flows for 21 miles past the villages of Otford, Shoreham, Eynsford, and Farningham, eventually reaching my home town of Dartford where it becomes a tidal estuary before finally entering the Thames at Long Reach. It is between the villages of Shoreham and Eynsford that the former Roman villa is located.

The proto-Darent would certainly have matched the breadth and beauty of the valleys through which it flows, but today, due to the River Medway having captured, via erosional activity, much of the headwaters which once supplied the Darent, the river is little more than a shallow, albeit highly picturesque, trickling stream. However, even during Roman times, the river was still wide enough and deep enough to be an important supply route. It was, essentially, a lifeline, and was easily able to accommodate Roman barges carrying grain and many other important supplies and commodities to and from the riverside villas. Through archaeological surveys, it is known that during the 2nd and 3rd centuries there may have been as many as a dozen or more Roman villas operating along the Darent.

An illustration by Peter Urmston provides an excellent impression of how the villa and the Darent may have appeared during the fourth century A.D.

Subsequent to its original construction in the first century A.D., the Lullingstone villa-house was repeatedly expanded throughout the following few centuries. During that time, it is thought that the villa was occupied by both wealthy Romans as well as Britons who had adopted Roman customs. The villa was, as we shall soon see, probably the most important of the Darent villas, gaining substantial political significance in the 2nd century A.D. It was destroyed by fire at some point in the 5th century A.D. Many of the Darent villas have been excavated, but the sites have been back-filled after preservation work was completed to conserve them for posterity. As a result, nothing can now be seen of them. Lullingstone is the only one of the Darent villas to have had its ruins housed in a visitors center, owned by English Heritage, which is open to the public.

THE FIRST FOUR MOVEMENTS
The first movement, “Paganus Nocte” (Pagan Night), serves as a preamble, in the form of a nocturne, to the main corpus of the work. It contains two significant melodic cells which are heard throughout the following movements during moments of unrest.

The second movement, entitled “Mausoleum,” centers around an unusually conspicuous temple-mausoleum which was constructed close to the villa, around 300 A.D. Beneath the temple was a tomb chamber with two lead coffins containing the bodies of two young people, a male and a female, who died in their early twenties. Unfortunately, no inscription has survived to provide any indication as to the identity of the couple or how they met their deaths. Due to the lack of any concrete facts, and in the interests of dramatisation, I devised a Romeo and Juliet-type scenario whereby I speculated that a feud may have arisen between rival Roman and British families which resulted in a suicide pact between two lovers, each one an offspring of one of the opposing clans. Although my conjecture is totally unsubstantiated, from a purely musical perspective, the notion of a doomed love affair provided me with the opportunity to write a love theme. However, despite its ecstatic climaxes, it is a love theme that is constantly underpinned by a fateful rising minor third motif which was introduced in Paganus Nocte. 

“Pegasus and Bollerophon” is the subject of the third movement, and also the subject of the central floor mosaic at the villa which depicts a famous scene from ancient Greek and Roman mythology; the hero Bollerophon riding the winged horse Pegasus in pursuit of the Chimera, a beast comprised of several different animals. The movement opens with an expansive, heroic theme played by the full string section in octaves, with supporting chords on the brass, suggesting the flight of Pegasus and Bollerophon in their quest to defeat the Chimera. 

The 4th movement, “Pertinax,” scored for brass, percussion and strings, is devoted to Publius Helvius Pertinax. Born in A.D.126, Pertinax became Governor of Britain in A.D.185. Artifacts discovered at Lullingstone have led to the possibility that the villa was actually the country retreat of various Roman governors of Britain, including Pertinax. This, of course, raises the status of the Lullingstone villa to quite a prestigious level.

THE FIFTH MOVEMENT
As previously stated, the 5th movement, subtitled “Nymphaeum et Chi-Rho” has been recorded by the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava Orchestra.

A room on the northern wing of the Lullingstone villa was built over a cella which was probably used from its inception, and certainly by the 2nd century, as a cult room. It had wall paintings including a picture of three water nymphs in a niche, so it would seem that the room was dedicated to the veneration of nymphs who were supernatural beings associated with rivers and water. They were regarded as divine spirits who vitalized and presided over the natural environment in which they lived, and were responsible for the care of plants and animals in their domain. Although nymphs were usually depicted as beautiful, young maidens, it is worth noting that the human mindset behind the mythology seemed to demonstrate an understanding and awareness of the fact that nature needs to be protected, preserved and cared for, and should not be treated with disrespect and destruction. In many respects, this mirrors our own modern concern regarding the protection and management of the natural environment in which we live.

The movement opens with a quiet, impressionistic passage suggestive of nymphs bathing, after which it becomes more animated as the nymphs begin to play and dance. However, the dance which begins at 00:37 is not a dainty frolic. On the contrary, it is an exuberant celebration of nature, and for that reason its qualities are often spirited, vigorous and dynamic. After the exhaustive revelry, the bathing scene returns and leads into “the song of the nymphs”.

According to the Greek and Roman myths, nymphs were shy creatures who tended to frequent solitary areas distant from humans in order that they would not be encountered by travelers who might spy on them as they were bathing during the noonday heat or dancing beneath the moonlight. Apparently, if such encounters occurred it could be dangerous, bringing besotted infatuation, madness, or stroke to the unfortunate human.

A seductive melody on the solo oboe, beginning soon after the opening of the section starting at 03:10, alludes to the song that the nymphs would sing to entice and entrap any who would dare to spy on them, causing delirium and frenzy. The oboe melody is taken up by the string section, after which solos from violin, cello, horn, and woodwinds are introduced before the music draws to a conclusion. As it does so, the 3rd and 4th horns intone the menacing minor third figuration, suggesting that something unfamiliar and mysterious is about to enter the picture.

Around the middle of the 4th century some remarkable changes occurred that distinguished Lullingstone from many of the other villas known from Roman Britain, the most noteworthy of which were the changes that took place above the cult room involving the creation of a house-church. The wall paintings from this room, replete with Christian symbolism, set the villa apart because they provide some of the earliest evidence for Christianity in Britain. Although the surviving remnants were fragmentary, enough remained to suggest that a large “Chi-Rho,” an early Christian symbol formed by the first two letters of Christ’s name in Ancient Greek, was painted on the south wall. (See photo here)

Another Chi-Rho symbol was also discovered as early as 1794 when a Roman villa was excavated at Nunnery Mead in Frampton, Dorset. Apart from this, the Lullingstone mosaics, with their curious mixture of pagan and Christian elements, are not easily paralleled in Britain. Possible Gnostic components have been identified, both at Lullingstone and Frampton, by Dominic Perring, particularly in his paper “Gnosticism in Fourth-Century Britain: The Frampton Mosaics Reconsidered.”

Gnosticism, from the Greek word Gnôsis (knowledge or awareness), is a collection of religious beliefs that flourished during the first century A.D. among Jewish and early Christian sects. In essence, it is based upon teachings that emphasized a distinction between a supreme, spiritual, hidden God and a malevolent lesser divinity who was responsible for the material universe. Gnostics considered material existence to be flawed and evil, and that salvation could only be achieved through knowledge and not faith, but their principles were denounced as heresy by the Fathers of the early Church and consequently suppressed. As a result, Gnosticism has been generally ignored by scholars, but a discovery of a collection of Gnostic scripts at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945, brought renewed interest in the subject. Although it wasn’t directly descended from an earlier religion, Gnosticism almost certainly contained Hellenistic and Zoroastrian influences. This may, therefore, account for murals such as Pegasus and Bellerophon appearing contemporaneously with the Christian elements at both Lullingstone and Frampton. The Pegasus/Bellerophon mosaic could be interpreted as a parable for the triumph of good over evil, or to put it more pertinently in Gnostic terms, as representing the triumph of spiritualism over materialism. There is also a painting that shows worshipers with their arms and hands raised, which is the posture of reverence adopted by early Christians who were, of course Gnostic Christians.

Therefore, rather than a purely Christian impact at Lullingstone, we could be looking at a Gnostic Christian doctrine, with its attendant ideology, that made a hitherto unrecognized incursion into certain areas of Roman Britain during the mid 4th century A.D. Broadly speaking, it explains the reasons for the mixture of heathen and evangelical elements at Lullingstone. Likewise, it also elucidates the juxtaposition of pagan and Christian inferences in the music of the 5th movement, which we shall now return to.

Since we have absolutely no idea of what may, or may not, have been sung or chanted in the Lullingstone house-church during the 4th century, it was a challenge to decide how to introduce this particular aspect of the villa into the music. Eventually, I took a lead from the great Italian composer Ottorino Respighi who, largely thanks to his wife, Elsa, was an authority on an early, religiously inspired form of music known as Gregorian Plainchant. Respighi introduced the Gregorian mode into many of his works. For instance, “Pines Near a Catacomb,” the second movement of his orchestral symphonic poem “The Pines of Rome,” is just one example where, by the use a Gregorian hymn, the composer conjures up a tonal picture of solitary pine trees overhanging the entrance to a desolate Roman catacomb.

Gregorian plainchant originated mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries. Even though that is far removed in time from the 4th century church-house at the Lullingstone villa, not only does Gregorian Plainchant have the required religious connotations, it is also one of the earliest forms of comprehensively notated music that exists, and because it was written down in medieval music notation known as ligature-based notation (which notates pitch but not rhythm), it has been preserved. However, unlike Respighi, I am not an expert on music from that period. Nevertheless, I had the internet to help me, so it wasn’t too difficult to find a suitable chant with which to introduce the Chi-Rho section of the final movement. The very first one that I came across was Rorate Caeli. It instantly appealed to me and seemed ideal for my purposes. In brief, the text of Rorate Caeli is frequently sung to plainsong during Advent where it gives expression to the coming of the Messiah. As such, and even though it is not of Gnostic origin, it reflected and satisfied the spiritual and religious nuances that were required. Although I have only used the opening stanzas, the entire version of the chant that I chose can be heard and seen with its medieval notation here: (Rorate Caeli)

For the orchestration of the chant, I needed an instrument that contained vocal qualities, but which also sounded pure and unadorned in tone. The obvious choice was, of course, the most vocal of orchestral instruments, the trombone, and in the orchestral setting, the chant, beginning at 05:46 is given to three trombones in unison, thus providing a noble, solemn ambiance, whilst interjections from trumpets, horns, and tuba provide antiphonal interest. Because Gregorian Plainsong is monophonic, the trombone line is unharmonized, but it is rooted throughout the passage to a pedal F supplied by timpani and contra basses.

A passage of jubilation follows, underscored by the chant motif, which culminates with a succession of fanfares from the brass section answered by strings and tubular bells. Immediately following this point in the score, a number of themes from previous movements are reintroduced. At 08:00 the love theme from the second movement reappears on the strings, followed by a repetition of the Song of the Nymphs, this time proclaimed triumphantly by the heavy brass, above which unison horns reinstate the Pegasus/Bellerophon motto from the third movement. Regardless of the milieu of motifs that almost topple over one another in their struggle to be heard, it is the Chi-Rho mantra that emerges victorious. Declared robustly by trumpets and trombones, and set against a flourish of chromatically rising triads in the woodwinds accompanied by percussion crescendos, it brings the work to a resounding conclusion.

— David J Eccott

On a rainy day in the summer, outdoor activities have to be postponed, and life seems to slow down. I wrote the main theme for this piece during a summer month when it rained nearly every day. I called it Song for a Rainy Day, because it seemed to capture the feeling of relaxing indoors while waiting for the rain to end.

When I compose, I try to give each player a line that feels like a real melody, not just an accompaniment. I think I was able to come closer to that goal in this piece than in any other piece I have written.

— Samuel A. Livingston

Fairies at Play, a dreamlike dance of dainty fairies, is the first from a cycle of compositions entitled Tales from Croatia by Croatian composer Nina Feric. Croatian folklore, resembling the heritage of other Slavic nations such as the Czech and the Russian, is full of legends and fables of fairies, pixies, and elves. To these fantastic creatures, in particular to the ravishing mysterious women living in woods, mountains or caverns, near lakes or streams, Feric dedicates a large part of her work, including this pleasurable music meditation. The author translates Croatian myths and legends into her music, portraying the colorful Croatian natural landscape along with the selected elements of diverse and picturesque Croatian folklore. From her earliest childhood, the composer nurtured in her imagination the characters of young, beautiful, long-haired miraculous beings wearing the wreaths of evergreen branches around their heads, just like the character of Kosjenka who — in the Croatian Tales of Long Ago by the famous Croatian romantic writer Ivana Brlić Mažuranić — rushes through the mountain cliffs like a whirlwind on a horse. Even though these Croatian folklore fairies do not have wings like does the Tinker Bell from Peter Pan by James Matthew Barrie, a Scottish colleague-contemporary of Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, it just may be that Feric imagines this most famous fairy in the world when, midst of a mischievous play of elves and butterflies, she introduces the bells, whose color blends most beautifully with the sound of her favorite companion — the piano, which she spends most of her days listening to, and at which she creates her music. As in a hazed Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, a dreamy flute first announces the play of the fairies, then the bells chatter followed by a singing oboe, and a true grand dance begins with the splendorous sounds of complete orchestra moving to the rhythm of the traditional circle dance, as a chorus to this “song without words.” Echoes of shepherd’s bagpipes evoke the rampant whirls of the circle dance, for which yearns the nature of us all, wherever we are from. Though her music is deeply rooted in Croatian folklore, these distant echoes of traditional dances of mountainous regions of Gorski Kotar or Mount Dinara transcend the national and territorial boundaries, inviting to a circle dance all those of pure thoughts and open hearts with a desire to play with natural and supernatural elements. So, let us hold hands and dance to Feric’s beat of fairy dances!

— Jana Haluza, music journalist

Listening to this orchestral rhapsody, abounding with the swaying motion of ocean waves wilding towards the shore, it is difficult not to recall the original thoughts that inspired the composer in creating this piece. As she herself describes, this composition is dedicated to her young nephew. Trying to assume the role of the fearless boy swimming open-water marathons, Feric uses her music to describe the sounds of the sea, the child’s relationship with the sea, their complete symbiosis, but also the incredible strength and effort needed in order to break through the waves, against the wind and the rain. Rough weather at sea is dramatized by the strings in broken chords, as a sharp and crisp accompaniment to the main theme played by warm woodwinds portraying the swimmer. Drums and cymbals bring in the breath of military march, as a symbol of the unbreakable will and spirit of a determined athlete rewarded with a magnificent anthemic theme that celebrates the beauty of harmony between the man and the nature, and the unstoppable energy of life as the eternal driver of creative spirit. Two parallel themes always meet and separate here, one in the combination of strings and woodwinds, the other in trumpets as an ornament and a sparkling element to enrich the musical language. This is the apotheosis of life with the sea and at sea, that inexhaustible inspiration and regeneration of human creativity. Towards the end, the sumptuous orchestra fades into a chamber sound, like calm and peace, giving space to our thoughts to dominate. Even if we haven’t yet seen and experienced the sea from the perspective of open-water swimmers, we can certainly do so through Feric’s music.

— Jana Haluza, music journalist

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