Toward Sunrise


by David Matthews

Full Orchestra
2(II=picc).2(II=ca).2.1.cbsn - - timp - perc(2): glsp/crot/bell tree/small.cym/medium.cym/large.cym/siz.cym/small mcas/gongs/tam-t - pno - strings

for Barrie Gavin

First Performance
8.7.2015, Lichfield Festival, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Lahav Shani

Score on sale (HPOD1008)

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
I wrote the original version of Toward Sunrise for large orchestra between December 2010 and March 2011, and rewrote it for smaller orchestra in the spring of 2012, making extensive revisions. My friend the renowned documentary film maker Barrie Gavin had been making short films based on music by George Benjamin and Toru Takemitsu. When I saw them I was inspired to write a piece intended as the soundtrack of a film that Barrie would make. At the moment the film, which is largely shot in the Welsh border landscape near Presteigne, where Barrie has lived for 22 years and which I know well from frequent visits, awaits its final editing, but meanwhile I think the music can stand alone. The music is intended to evoke a pre-dawn landscape, with episodes of birdsong and, towards the end, a long sustained melody for the violins. Following this comes an evocation of sunrise, which is essentially the same as in my later orchestral work A Vision of the Sea. It is based on the sound of the sun as recorded by scientists at Sheffield University. Magnetic loops coiling away from the sun vibrate like strings of a musical instrument, and in one recording the interval of a rising fourth, C to F, can be heard against a sustained harmony of these two notes, with a very low B underneath. It seemed uncannily appropriate – an Urmotif – and I transferred these sounds to strings, with a contrabassoon and piano playing the low B, and gradually built up a climax. The piece ends with the low B sounding together with the highest possible B on string harmonics. Toward Sunrise is dedicated to Barrie Gavin in his 80th birthday year.

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