I was very excited and proud to be involved in a concert back at the beginning of October with local volunteers, in celebration of a very beautiful landscape and its design.
I was commissioned by the Wentworth Castle Heritage Trust’s community’s officer Peter Clegg, to produce my piece Wentworth Cantata. The commission was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the CB300 festival. It was premiered at Wentworth Castle on the 16th October as part of the Voices of the Landscape project in collaboration with the Barnsley writers and the Penistone Poets.
The concert itself featured a storyboard of wonderful poetry and narrations, punctuated by extracts of my score for bass guitar and bass voice.
My ideas for Wentworth Cantata began as visual sketches rather than musical notation. An interest in the Capability Brown inspired modelling of the landscape and the architecture of the building itself led me to an alternate way of displaying material for the performers.
The score consists of lines and shapes traced directly from large scale maps of the area surrounding Wentworth Castle. The performer is free to create their own journey through the hypothetical landscape using the 14 ‘micro’ pieces which can be manipulated in various ways and played in any order.
Just as the architecture of the building is made up of multiple wings which were built at different times over recent centuries, several of the sections are taken from musical works of the past which correspond to the dates of the buildings. The voice part consists of both spoken and sung material in ballad form which gives a narrative consistency to the work. I commissioned the text from John Anstie (https://poetjanstie.wordpress.com/) who was also the vocalist for this project.
You can see the individual fragments from the various compositions labelled adjacent to each module on the score, as well as an example of how the landscape is abstractly translated onto the page.
Future extensions of Voices of the Landscape will hopefully include more performances at Wentworth Castle itself (perhaps in the gardens… weather permitting!) a published book containing poems from the project along with my score and finally, a project involving the software ‘Google Maps’ to pin audio to areas of landscape for the public to explore digitally.
This project was hugely rewarding and being able to stand beside my work after the concert rounded off the achievement.
Photo credit: Emily Needle