“Turn ye to me, turn, turn : do you hear it?” – This line from Jane’s poem certainly rang true this weekend.
Having missed the first performance of my work, ‘Horo’, I was champing at the bit to hear Frances and Joanna’s interpretation of my score. As a composer, I strive to make my notions clear on the great musical map we call a score; one misplaced dynamic marking could disturb the musical line and, in turn, detract from the wonderful text I was being given the opportunity to set. Knowing both performers’ ability to interpret a score and to react to it with the greatest of sensibility, any trepidation I may have initially experienced was entirely in vain! I sat there, in Jedburgh’s beautiful St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, knowing that my work was in the most capable of hands.
In terms of my working with the poems, I am a firm believer in the music serving the text. There are fewer things more adept at being immediately understood and provoking instant reaction than the written (or spoken) word. Yes, the pen is mightier than the sword. It is armed with this belief that I decided to imbue the voice with a fairly smooth and simple line: plainsong in the first movement followed by a more lyrical melody in the third.
The overarching recitative-intermezzo-aria form of my work is a nod towards my love of opera and provides the work with both a macrostructure of all three movements, plus three more flexible stand-alone pieces, each with their own subtitle. I also believe in the practicality of music and the facilitatory role it performs both on and off the concert platform, a subject which shall be explored in a future post.
Stuart Murray Mitchell