'Anderson’s pristine musical poem is over almost as soon as it has begun – but not before eliciting mystic waves from the sopranos, a flurry of dark rumblings in characteristically imaginative orchestration.' The Financial Times

Instrumentation

3(III=picc).2.ca.3(III=bcl).3(III=cbsn) - 4331 - perc(4): mar/t.bells/ocean drum/2 tam-t/rainstick/2 Tibetan bowls/BD/low t.bell - harp - strings

Availability

Full score on sale (HPOD1011) Full score, vocal scores and parts for hire

Programme Notes

Harmony sets some lines concerning nature and time by the nineteenth-century mystical writer Richard Jefferies. Whilst walking in the Wiltshire countryside near a prehistoric monmument, Jefferies had a moment of revelation in which time appeared to stand still and he felt he had entered eternity. This moment was later written up as his strange autobiographical book The Story of my Heart (1883). Harmony’s text is drawn from this volume. The work emerges very quietly and has only a few brief moments where the full strength of choir and orchestra are revealed – analogous, perhaps, to the brief intensity of Jefferies’ revelation. To give a feeling of timelessness, the harmony of the music moves very slowly and gradually throughout, despite some very fast foreground figuration and a few passages of more vigorous rhythmic activity. For the same reason, a short duration requested was appropriate for this work: a flash of revelation can only be reflected in either a very brief but intense musical statement, or else in a very long one. Moderation is not an option when dealing with eternity. When we listen to music together in a concert, our normal sense of everyday, clock time is suspended and we enter the time of the music itself. So in writing a work such as Harmony, which celebrates eternity and timelessness, however briefly, in effect one is celebrating one of the special marvels of concert giving and of music itself. 

Julian Anderson

Reviews

'Proving that less really can mean more, Anderson’s pristine musical poem is over almost as soon as it has begun – but not before eliciting mystic waves from the sopranos, a flurry of dark rumblings in characteristically imaginative orchestration and a succession of quasi-minimalist syncopations. Harmony will surely travel.'
Financial Times (Andrew Clark), 14 July 2013

'Harmony... caught with delicate precision the idea that music stops ordinary clock time and creates its own sort of motion. Its brief four-minute swell left behind a definite flavour of something English, as if Delius had momentarily joined hands with French modernist chic.
The Telegraph (Ivan Hewett), 12 July 2013

'A beautiful opener. It was artfully shaped and fully conveyed the wonder in a poem by Jefferies, taking Time as its muse.'
Bachtrack (Katy S. Austin), 13 July 2013

'Rarely can a Proms season have opened so quietly, or vast choral and orchestral forces been used with such exquisite fastidiousness. Setting a text contemplating time and eternity by Jefferies, it came and went in a four-minute hush of note-clusters and sinuous choral counterpoints, with brief bursts of jazzily off-kilter string pizzicatos supplying a contrast.
The Times (Richard Morrison), 13 July 2013

Harmony

repeat broadcast of performance on 12th July.

Royal Albert Hall (London, United Kingdom)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo

Harmony

Royal Albert Hall (London, United Kingdom)

BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo