When the Festival Chorus – a local choir based close to where I live in Clapham – asked
me to write a work to celebrate their fortieth anniversary I was delighted to accept. My
first thought was to involve the members of the chorus in the selection of texts. Their
suggestions were very helpful in pushing me in the right direction, proposing poets I
had not thought of myself (Emily Dickinson and Rabindranath Tagore) – although the final
choice of poems was my own.
Edward Thomas provides an opportunity for a bold opening, with ‘The Trumpet’. Tagore’s
words (his poem has no title) could have suggested something rhapsodic, but I have used
them to create a dance-like movement, very lively, almost a scherzo. Both Emily
Dickinson and Katherine Mansfield called for a soloist; in the latter the chorus
provides a dreamy background.
Once I came across Longfellow’s ‘The Day is Done’ it became the only possible
conclusion. It follows on from a short orchestra interlude, bringing together elements
from elsewhere in the work in a mood of gentle resignation.
The Trumpet: Edward Thomas
I would not paint – a picture – : Emily Dickinson
Song VII: Rabindranath Tagore
Voices of the Air: Katherine Mansfield
The Day is Done: Henry Longfellow
View the score (published by Faber Music)