2(both=picc).2.2(I=ebcl., II=bcl.).2(II=cbsn.) - 2.2(I=tpt in D).0.0 - strings
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.