Six Speechless Songs


chamber orchestra
Chamber/Small Orchestra
2(both=picc).2.2(I=ebcl., II=bcl.).2(II=cbsn.) - 2.2(I=tpt in D).0.0 - strings

Commissioned by the SCO to open their 40th Anniversary Concert season as part of his role as Associate Composer to the Orchestra

First Performance
6.2.14, Edinburgh Usher Hall, Scotland, UK: SCO/Robin Ticciati

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
The title comes from the final couplet of Shakespeare's Sonnet 8: Whose speechless song being many, seeming one, Sings this to thee: 'Thou single wilt prove none.' Shakespeare is here celebrating the family unit, but it could be extended to the many voices of an orchestra. The lines appealed to me as a new father (my daughter was born while I was writing this piece) and allowed me to link this birth-day with the SCO's 40th birthday, for whom the piece was commissioned. Such events demand a celebration, but rather than composing a single movement of great energy and excitement, I decided to write a sequence of short lyrical moments that would allow for a variety of celebratory gestures within a multi-movement piece: 'many, seeming one'. One of the most fascinating aspects of music for me is how it is able to combine simultaneous disparate elements into a coherent whole - the magic of polyphony. Each of these miniatures explores a possible realisation of the many-voiced speechless song that Shakespeare invokes. Four 'songs' are energetic and lively in character: a fanfare unison, a collection of dance fragments, a peal of bells, and a brief melody floating within a flowing river. Two are more reflective: the central movement re-imagines a famous piobaireachd urlar, while the final is a hypnotic berceuse. MS 2014

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