Renewal owes its origins to a remark I made at the pre-concert talk for the first performance, in the spring of 1992, of what has now become its third part. I said then that I had thought of Broken Symmetry as perhaps the scherzo of a ‘mega-work’. After its second performance at the Proms, Nicholas Kenyon reminded me of what I had said, and asked me when I was going to write the rest of it. Although I hadn’t really thought through the implications of writing something on such a large scale, the idea of doing something gradually grew, and the prospect of composing a work to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BBC’s Third Programme made it concrete.
The opening Intrada, a 70th birthday present for Hans Werner Henze, is scored for wind, brass, and percussion: its musical material is closely related to Broken Symmetry, although unlike that work it is mostly slow and brooding. For the framework of the second part, a Threnody dedicated to the memory of Toru Takemitsu, who died while I was writing it, I turned to another pre-existing piece, Memorial, composed for the London Symphony Orchestra in 1992. But I only used the opening section of that work, for strings, piano and harp, and the music develops in a different direction from its original. The final part, Metamorphoses, for chorus and orchestra, sets a text derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, describing the philosophy of Pythagoras: ‘Nothing in the whole world endures unchanged…everything is renewed’. From this comes the title of the whole work.