Autumnal

Ahead of tomorrow’s concert, I’m excited to announce a new piece of my own which will be featured as part of the programme. It will be performed by Jenny Whittaker (soprano) and myself.

Autumnal began simply as an attempt to compose a work inspired by my love of the landscape surrounding my home in the Autumn time. I asked my friend John Anstie to write three short haikus which would describe an Autumnal scene. He responded with these wonderful lines:

Rainbow hues turning

chill air low sun (but) warm hearts

beauteous day-long dawn

pink light (on) timeless trees

yield a golden fleece and warmth

(for) aching Mother Earth

sleeping beauties wake

from enduring frozen night

in Spring refreshing

I began working on the piece by setting this short text to music, testing out melodies on the violin. The vocal line centres around the Dorian of Ab, which to me (in an old romantic and quasi-synesthetic way) suggests the dark yellow colours which leaves become in the Autumn. ‘Folk-like and with little vibrato’ is the instruction for the vocalist regarding the expression of the lines, which Jenny achieves beautifully. Beneath the vocal line there are electronic samples of leaves and piano chords suspended in time which provide a kind of aural canvas for the vocal line to make its mark.

Autumnal was written especially for tomorrow’s concert, in memory of John Hirst. Find out more here – https://josephshawsite.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/the-music-of-john-david-hirst-24-11-41-21-06-11/

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