There are Times
Motet No 1 -in Six Parts
(Sx2, A, T, Bar & B.) Dur: 9.15”
What am I doing dredging up works so far and deep in my distant past!? I thought to myself as I started inputting There are Times . Having returned home from sitting in on a Song Company rehearsal of the Tears of St Peter by Lassus, I started thinking in choral terms again.
Text: Hmmm, yes, it is my own, and reflects something of my thinking, back then, as it does even now.
A strange sketch I wrote in my notebook whilst on tour with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 1982 (!!?) My two friends and musical colleagues Christine Draeger (flute) and Debbie Berlin/Scholem (violin) were keen on singing, so I wrote a couple of very short ideas, which I have a vague memory of trying to sing with them in a now forgotten country town, somewhere behind the Blue Mountains in Australia.
Original sketch: Oh my God.... circa 1982
Developed: circa 2012, then May 2020, Byron Bay
Dreams & Visions
Motet No 2 -in four parts (S,A,T,Bar.)
Recorded live: Song Company on tour, circa March, 2022
Dreams and Visions began as an of experiment in writing for solo voice and looping device, one of two such works composed as part of The Goddess Returns, an Elektra String Quartet multi-media performance project. I then took the two “4 part motets for solo voice and looper”and incorporated them into another work, Songs of Psyche. (Version 1).
After its one and only performance, and a strikingly tragic experience of the limitations of such technological bullshit, I reworked Songs of Psyche into a larger work again, but without subjecting my writing to the limitations of such technologies; why not avail myself, I thought, to the joy and freedom of writing for real voices (and real string ensembles) and not be limited to the simplistic strictures of a loop ….....
So here I am, many years later, and have recently expanded Dreams, but now in a pure and simple a Capella form. It feels good to know Dreams and Visions now exists, complete and perfect, (in its own way!) even if only as an unperformed 'Platonic Form' (reference being to Parmeneides, and Apollo Ourios...
The text:..... deary me, where to begin! As is probably obvious, the text 'originated' with me, never really 'composed' but rather gradually added to and worked on at random points during the works genesis. As such, it could be considered a loose “psycho-collage”, and makes sense, at least to me; but, as I said before, the original ideas were done within the limitations of a solo voice with looping device..... enough said.
63 Goonengerry Rd,
Romano Crivici, 5th June, 2019
Update: Dreams & Visions was performed by the Song Company in their "Rumours of Glory" season over 15th -22nd March, 2022. Even though they performed a hacked down version....I should be so lucky. One of the performers came down with Covid, so Antony Walker (director) stepped in and did a brilliant job, and kept the show on the road!
26th May, 2022
Wind & Clouds
Motet No 3, in five parts - S, M Sop, A, T, Bar, with 'Palmas' (clapping), bell & Viola
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (Psalm 139: 7 - 12)
Given most texts of sacred music are in Latin, and as such really don't make 'sense' when listening, so too, this English text doesn't need to make a strictly literal 'sense'..... as I said, flowing 'stream of consciousness'.
The text for the Hymnal/Psalm section, however, came very late in the piece. At a dead-end, stuck trying to make up some mumblo-jumbo text, the verse from St John came into my mind; it was a rare text/communication of something very profound, way beyond a lot of the usual tribal, ancestral worship, bargaining and lament.... bordering on an ultimate truth, inasmuch as can be known, let alone articulated, of a fundamental non-dualistic mode of being. God, as that which inheres beyond Dark and Light... dare I say, Good and Evil..... but that is a matter for the theologians and philosophers..... And in the Spaces in between, Words and Thoughts, …..Wind, and Clouds.... Pass on Bye.
Revised and published, 2020
Motet No 4, in six parts S,S,A,A,T,B
It wouldn't take much to realise that I am greatly in debt, (and awe) of the great masters; a lifetime of love and immersion in the choral music of Palestrina, Heinrich Schutz, and of course, the great JS himself, have left a deep mark in my soul.
As to this piece itself, what can I say -it is what it is. My writing is guided by, and who knows, may even make a minimal contribution to that great tradition.
It was originally composed, in a simpler and less developed form, for a performance exam in choral technique in an almost next to useless Masters degree I did, in a mediocre music department, under a totally useless supervisor, in a University of not much significance. (For the record, the lecturer/tutors in choral, and vocal conducting were good, and actually taught, challenged and helped develop some technique... but that's another story!)
Revised and published, 2019
Motet No. 5, in six parts (Sop x 2, Alto x2, Ten & Bass) with Baritone solo, piano, D.bass, soft perc.
Work in progress (or not!
Woke at 4.15 am; couldn't sleep. After a while of tossing and turning, and starting to hear and think about a still piece for motet with calm percussion (particularly singing bowls) I realised I may as well get up and start. Having been at Drangar/Great Hall for the first time last night with Carla, and just having been invited to perform there (Flat Earth) I realised the unique possibilities with its amazing.... unique ….? acoustics for something floating.... timeless.....
Feeling solid with Wind & Clouds (the structural form/ideas are happening) why not begin to set out the score and instrumentation, and have a little explore..........
Time and its passing...... mortality; and its measures -second by second..... timelessness against the inexorable..... tossing and turning in the dark hours of the early morning......... the dark nights of the soul.... and truly, this too shall come to pass..... 15th July, 2019
...And so too, we dream.
Motet No. 6, for Baritone solo, with Sop, Alt, Ten & bass, -with palmas (palm-clapping) viola, D. bass, piano and simple percussion.
Work in Progress!
This work, as the previous, I began working on after having heard, and then met the amazing baritone Andrew O'Connor. We got together at one of our local cafes (Shenkin Kitchen) and talked about the possiblity of collaborating (Song Company had imploded not that long ago, and Andrew was starting a new vocal ensemble (AVE).......and then Covid appeared, and all the best laid plans of mice and men..............
...to be continued. (5th June, 2022)