Notes on the birth of a new work
If you've seen me on SoundCloud you may have noticed an upload of mine called Saor, a new work-in-progress for orchestra. If you were feeling adventurous enough you may even have played the track. Here it is:
The word 'saor' is a Gaelic word meaning 'free' or 'unrestrained' and was always just a fancy working title for my new work. I was originally inspired by Debussy's La Cathédrale Engloutie, from his first set of Préludes for piano; Debussy's starting point was the legend of a submerged cathedral which rises magnificently from the ocean, complete with bells clanging and organ thundering.
But my own piece was having a very troubled birth. I started with another working title Engloutie, my personal homage to Debussy's prelude and my sketches contain no less than 9 fully worked out openings, some a hundred bars or so in length, with many considerable and weighty sketches. But my musical thinking was changing, my style evolving; I simply could not get off the runway with this music any more. So I mothballed the project, fully intending to pick it up after I'd finished my choral work When We Awake.
In the mean time, at the start of 2021, I started a new orchestral scrapbook. I was still fascinated by the Debussy story but the essence of this fascination was now becoming clearer to me; my subconscious had been distilling the notion of rebirth, of coming up for air after submersion - baptism if you like - of being made free and flying high.
Would you believe it. This very first sketch, the one and only sketch so far in Scrapbook 2021, suddenly took on a life of its own; it was almost as if my subconscious had been waiting for this moment. Thinking of the concept of rebirth and freedom as I was writing it I chanced on the wonderful word 'soar'. I knew it wouldn't be the final title of this new piece, but it at last gave me the focus I needed. And I had an idea where my music was now evolving.
Now the real title for this new work can be revealed: Nova
And in case you think I've given the game away about the meaning of this piece, there may be more to it than you think!
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