(Text: I. Requiem/Kyrie; II. Bede (Latin paraphrase of Caedmon’s Creation Hymn); III. Agnus Dei; IV. Caedmon Creation Hymn; V. In Paradisum.)
Duration 30’
Dedicated to Bill Cadman.
(I) Instrumentation: alto, 2 tenors, bass-baritone, 2 violas, cello (+ optional bass)
First performance: Conservatoire de Lyon, 17 May 1989
(ii) Instrumentation: (4 voices)+ viol consort (2 treble viols, 2 tenors, 1 bass, 1 great bass)
First performance: recording AIR studios November 17th 1997
(live: Westminster Cathedral December 21st 1998)

Note : Cadman Requiem (1989)

Cadman Requiem (1989)

Cadman Requiem was written in memory of my friend and sound engineer Bill Cadman, who was killed in the Lockerbie air crash in December 1988. It is in five sections and sets only two of the traditional requiem texts - "Kyrie" and "Agnus Dei" - with the addition of "In Paradisum" which, although from the Order of Burial, is set by Fauré and others. The other two sections, which come in between the traditional parts, are Bede's paraphrase of Caedmon's Creation-Hymn (in Latin like the three traditional movements) and the original Caedmon poem (in 7th century Northumbrian). The surname "Cadman" is a corruption of "Caedmon", the first English poet who, though he considered himself to lack any poetic skill, discovered the gift of poetic utterance when "a certain person" appeared to him in a dream.

The piece was written in the spring of 1989 for the four voices of the Hilliard Ensemble accompanied, in the original version, by 2 violas and cello, with optional double bass. Another version was made in the autumn  of 1997 for the Hilliard Ensemble to perform with the 6 viol consort Fretwork.

It is dedicated to Bill Cadman.

Note : Bryars' Cadman Requiem translation

Bryars' Cadman Requiem translation

I Requiem

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

O Lord, hear my prayer, all flesh shall come to thee.

Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy.


II Caedmon Paraphrase (Bede) (tenor solo)

Praise we now the maker of Heaven's fabric, the majesty of His might and His mind's wisdom, work of the world-warden, worker of all wonders, how the Lord of Glory, first made Heaven for the children of men as a roof and shelter, then he made middle earth to be their mansion.


III Agnus Dei

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, give them rest.

Let perpetual light shine upon them, together with thy Saints, for thou art good.

Eternal rest grant them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.


IV Caedmon's "Creation Hymn" (baritone solo)

Now let us praise the keeper of the kingdom of heaven, the might of God and the wisdom of his spirit, the work of the Father of glory, in that he, the eternal Lord, ordained the beginning of everything that is wonderful. He, the holy Creator, first created heaven as a roof for the children of men; afterwards the keeper of mankind, the eternal Lord, almighty Governor, fashioned the world, the middle earth, for mortals.


V In Paradisum

May the angels receive thee in paradise; at thy coming may the martyrs receive thee into the Holy City. There may the choir of angels receive thee and with Lazarus, once a beggar, may thou have eternal rest.

First performance Estonia Symphony Hall, Tallinn April 6
Estonian National Male Choir, conductor Kaspars Putnins

Duration:  35'
Dedication: Julian Lloyd Webber
Instrumentation: solo cello, 2(1).1 + cor anglais, 2(1), 2(1);; harp; perc.(2 players) (bells, marimba, vibes, 2 suspended cymbals, Tam-Tam, Bass Drum, timps - 4 drums); strings
First performance: Julian Lloyd Webber, cello, English Chamber Orchestra, cond. James Judd, Barbican, London November 24th 1995

Note : Cello Concerto (1995)

Cello Concerto (1995)

(Farewell to Philosophy)

I have a great fondness for the lower string instruments: I am a bass- player; my mother was a cellist, as are both my daughters; my own ensemble includes two violas, a cello and a bass, and in a number of orchestral works, starting with my opera Medea I omit the entire violin section from the orchestra. As I have written a number of works for solo instrument or voice with orchestra, I welcomed the opportunity to write a concerto for cello and orchestra and especially one which focuses particularly on the instrument's lyrical qualities.  The cello is, arguably, the most 'vocal' of instruments with its range going from the lowest notes of the average bass voice, to the highest notes of the soprano. Although the piece is in one continuous movement, and the soloist is playing almost without a break, it nevertheless falls into distinct sections which are recognisable by a shift of tempo, a change of instrumental focus, as well as by a change in the music's character.

One of the early ideas the original soloist Julian Lloyd Webber and I discussed was that it might form a companion piece to one of the Haydn concertos. This immediately suggested a number of particular musical references. The subtitle to my cello concerto, for example, combines the subtitles of two idiosyncratic Haydn symphonies and I allude to them in different ways - chiefly through orchestration. For The Philosopher I include a section in the concerto where the accompanying orchestration resembles that of the symphony's first movement (alternating pairs of English and French horns, muted violins and unmuted lower strings) as well as the implacably strict tempo. For The Farewell, the allusion is effected by the progressive reduction in orchestration towards the end of the concerto. Indeed, apart from the orchestral tutti in the last few bars, the last pages of the score are virtually for string quartet. Haydn was also, after all, the "father" of the string quartet.

The piece is not a show-piece calling for great virtuosic display, although it is not an easy work, but rather one in which the soloist is called upon to play extended melodic phrases, and to shape the piece, almost like the leader of a chamber music ensemble. There is no cadenza, but the piece calls for great stamina and bow control - the soloist is given only four or five bars rest in the whole concerto.

The subtitle of the cello concerto also refers to my own background as a philosophy graduate who moved into a career in music....

The piece was commissioned by Philips Classics for Julian Lloyd Webber and is dedicated to him.

Opera (incomplete) collaboration with Robert Wilson. Some sections of the music exist in completed form, as follows:
i) On Photography
(text Pope Leo XIII: Ars Photographica)
Instrumentation: Chorus(SATB), harmonium, piano.
First Performance, National Youth Chamber Choir, conductor Michael Brewer, Huddersfield, November 1994
(part of this is used for section 3 of Effarene
ii) 2B
Instrumentation: Percussion ensemble.
(part of this is used for Viennese Dance no.1
iii) Arias
For Marie Curie, The Queen of the Sea, Captain Nemo, The Japanese Bride.
(Marie Curie and The Queen of the Sea arias are used in Effarene)

For flute/ piccolo, cor anglais, bass clarinet/ B flat, bassoon/ contra, percussion, piano,
viola, double bass
Duration 17’
First Performance: Relache,
Prince Music theatre, Philadelphia, May 23 2005

Duration: c.18’
Dedication: to Billesdon
Instrumentation: Chorus (SATB) 2 flutes, oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone (2 players), 2 trombones (3 players), 2 electric guitars (3 players), handbells (5 players), 3 electric keyboards (optional shakers), drum kit, violin, 2 celli (4 players), bass
First Performance: Billesdon Millennium Music, The Coplow Centre Billesdon, December 31st 1999

Note : Creation Hymn

Creation Hymn

dedicated to Billesdon

I was approached last year by Fiona White to see if I would be prepared to write a piece of music involving people from Billesdon, as a millennium project to be played on New Year's Eve 1999. We held a meeting in November 1998 in order to gauge the level of interest and to find out what kind of musical resources we might have. I explained something of my approach in composing and devised a simple questionnaire for the possible participants. From this I was able to discover the types of instruments and voices available to me, as well as the experience and musical abilities of the performers. This was ranged from those who had little or no experience on the one hand, to those who had a serious professional background. In between were those with a love of music but who had found little opportunity for collective music making for many years - in many cases since school days! There were some considerable surprises: I had not, for example, thought that a village the size of Billesdon would have four cellos and 3 trombones concealed within the community. The presence of a set of handbells too was a challenge, especially when it transpired that they were pitched a semitone lower than notated (I had to fax a new part from Canada).

The actual writing of the piece was delayed considerably because of substantial and unexpected changes in my professional and domestic lives but the music was eventually put in front of the ensemble about a month ago. I was very fortunate that my music publisher, Schott, was prepared to produce a printed score and sets of parts as a gesture of sponsorship. There was a good deal of private practice, sectional rehearsals and I was pleased that the church choir managed to find some time to look at the music during their regular weekly choir practice. During my absence my old friend and colleague Dave Smith directed rehearsals and got the music into some sort of shape. Indeed when I returned he had become so involved in the project that we decided he should conduct the piece in performance, and so I wrote myself a bass part in order to be in the piece too.

The question of text for the choir was something that I thought about at great length. Eventually I chose the Creation Hymn by the 7th century poet Caedmon, a beautiful poem which is the oldest piece of written poetry that we have in England. I had set it before, very differently, but felt that the simple sincerity of its celebration of life was an appropriate sentiment for the occasion. In addition the fact that it could, in theory, have been used for a first millennium piece made in even more attractive - I speculated that perhaps on December 31st 999 something like this might have happened before.....  The poem is set twice, the first in a Latin paraphrase by the church historian Bede, also from the seventh century and the second in the original language.

The music falls into five sections, which are played without a break.

Section One begins with a kind of prologue in which three different instrumental groups from within the full ensemble are given there own material.

In Section Two the full ensemble is put together and this leads into a four-part chorus singing, in Latin, Caedmon's Creation Hymn.

Section Three is more energetic for the full instrumental group, accompanied by drum kit.

In the Fourth Section the chorus sing the Creation Hymn again, but this time in the original 7th century Northumbrian.

Section Five is a short, quiet coda, in which music from the prologue reappears to close the piece.

The commitment and team spirit of the whole group has been extraordinary and it has been a remarkable experience to work with them. Any good things that the performance contains are down to them. Any mistakes are mine

Gavin Bryars

Note : Texts of Creation Hymn

Texts of Creation Hymn

Nunc laudare debemus auctorem regni caelestis, potentiam Creatoris et consilium illius, facta Patris gloriae. Quomodo ille, cum sit aeternus Deus, omnium miraculorum auctor extitit, qui primo filiis hominum caelum pro culmine tecti, dehinc terram custos humani generis omnipotens creavit. 

Nu scylun hergan       hefaenricaes uard,

metudaes mecti      end his mogdedanc,

uerc wuldurfadur    sue he wundra gihwaes,

eci dryctin,     or astelidae;

he aerist scop     aelda barnum

heben til hrofe,    haleg scepen,

tha middungeard     moncynnaes uard;

eci dryctin      aefter tiadae

firum foldu    frea allmectig.

Translation of the Anglo-Saxon (the Latin is broadly the same):

Now let us praise the keeper of the kingdom of heaven, the might of God and the wisdom of his spirit, the work of the world-warden, in that he, the eternal Lord, ordained the beginning of everything that is wonderful. He, the holy Creator, first created

heaven as  a roof for the children of men; afterwards the keeper of mankind, the eternal Lord, almighty Governor, fashioned the world, the middle earth, for mortals.

Text: traditional
Three female voices
First performance Trio Mediaeval, San Francisco November 15 2008