O

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

for soprano and tenor
Duration 6’
Dedication: John Potter and Anna Maria Friman
First performance: CBC Broadcast Sept 11th 2002

Note : Text of Lauda 4 "Oi me lasso"

Text of Lauda 4 "Oi me lasso"

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,              Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                  for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                         enough to die?

 

Morire dovaresti, falso sconoscente,           You should have died, false and thankless heart,

villano, cieco, pigro e negligente,               villainous, blind, lazy and negligent,

ké per amor non vivi fervente                    since you do not live so fervent with love

sì ke languise.                                          that you languish.

 

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,              Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                  for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                         enough to die?

 

Perire potaresti si non se' defeso               You should have died, if you were not protected

dal grande amor Iesù da cui se' ateso:       by the great love of Jesus, to which you have turned:

vôlte abracciare e sta en croce desteso,     he longs to embrace you, and hangs stretched upon

s'a lui venisse.                                         the cross, that you may come to him.

 

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,             Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                 for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                        enough to die?

 

Transmortisci, cuore, e và gridando;         You faint, my heart, and go out shouting,

e pure amore amore amore amando,        and loving Love-Love-Love;

ke no l'ai puramente amato và dolorando, since you have not loved purely, go forth sorrowing,

e parturisce!                                           and be born again!

 

Oi me lasso, e freddo lo mio core,             Ah, poor me, my heart is cold,

ke non sospiri tanto per amore                 for does it not sigh with love

ke tu morisse?                                        enough to die?



Text: George Bruce
Duration c. 3'
Solo tenor and harp



text: Pope Leo XIII
Duration: c. 20'
Instrumentation: Chorus (SATB), harmonium, piano
(see CIVIL WarS)

Note : On Photography

On Photography

For mixed chorus, Harmonium and piano.

This piece was written in 1983 as part of the work I did with Robert Wilson on his large-scale operatic project The CIVIL WarS, designed to be part of the opening of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Although the piece was rehearsed and prepared for recording by the choir of South German Radio in Baden Baden, it was never finally performed due to the collapse of the overall project.

The choice of text and subject matter was mine. At the time we were working on a scene which involved imagery from Jules Verne. I knew that Verne had met Pope Leo XIII in 1884 (a hundred years before our work was due to reach fruition) and that Leo XIII had written a poem Ars Photographica in praise of photography (a modern subject using an archaic language, Latin) when he was still Cardinal Pecci in Perugia in 1867. As it happened, the writer Susan Sontag was considering joining the project and we spoke together several times. I knew, of course, that one of her first major books was on photography, and this led me to set Leo's text almost as a way of welcoming her on to the team. Until 1994 the manuscript was lost - I eventually found it behind a filing cabinet when clearing my office - but a setting of the text was included in my 1984 cantata Effarene, which rescued and reworked a number of elements from that time. Here the text is set both in Latin and in  Italian translation, and the final section has a brief Latin epitaph. The instrumental accompaniment reflected the fact that I had then recently played the harmonium part in Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle.

Note : Text for On Photography

Text for On Photography

(Ars Photographica (1867))

Expressa solis spiculo

Nitens imago, quam bene

Frontis decus, vim luminum

Refers, et oris gratiam.

 

O mira virtus ingeni

Novumque monstrum! Imaginem

Naturae Apelles aemulus

Non pulchriorem pingeret.

 

(L'Arte Fotografica (trans. Cesario Testa))

 

Tersa, perfetta imagine,

Di sol da un raggio uscita,

Oh come ben sai rendere

Movenze, aspetto e vita

 

Oh nuovo e gran miraculo

Dell'Arte! Opre più belle

Ha mai dipinto l'emulo

Della Natura Apelle?

 

Resonare fibris, labii reatum, mira ut queant laxis mira gestorum Sancte Joannes;

Famuli tuorum solve polluti reatum, ut queant laxis Sancte Joannes.

 

Translation

(On Photography)

 

Sun-wrought with magic of the skies

The image fair before me lies:

Deep-vaulted brain and sparkling eyes

And lip's fine chiselling.

 

O miracle of human thought,

O art with newest marvels fraught -

Apelles, Nature's rival, wrought

No fairer imaging!

(trans. H.T. Henry, 1902)



Duration 15'
Dedication: to Nexus
Instrumentation: 5 percussion
First performance: Nexus, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, November 1994

Note : One Last Bar Then Joe Can Sing (1994)

One Last Bar Then Joe Can Sing (1994)

Commissioned by the Arts Council of Great Britain for the virtuoso percussion quintet Nexus, this piece is a reflection on aspects of percussion history, both personal and musical. The members of Nexus are my friends (I played in the Steve Reich Ensemble along with Russ Hartenberger, for example, in 1972 - the year after Nexus was formed) and I have known their playing as an ensemble for almost 20 years. The piece exploits not only the tremendous virtuosity of Nexus but rather more their wonderful musicality and subtlety. The piece starts from the last bar at the end of the first part of my first opera Medea, a very short coda for a quintet of untuned percussion instruments. In my new piece, however, this one apparently innocuous bar is progressively fragmented until it is taken over, little by little, by the addition of tuned percussion instruments. Eventually two metal tuned instruments (crotales and songbells) play aria-like material with bows, occasionally joined by the xylophone, and accompanied by marimba and xylophone ostinati.The piece ends with a coda in which phrases are passed from bowed vibraphone to bowed crotales to bowed songbells, supported by tremolos on two marimbas. The rare 3-octave songbells which Nexus owns is one of the great American instrument maker J. C. Deagan's particularly fine instruments and the piece is effectively a kind of homage to Deagan - the Stradivarius of the tuned percussion family. Deagan was a close collaborator with Percy Grainger in the development of tuned percussion music between the wars and I have always admired Grainger's imaginative and audacious use of percussion. The family of keyboard percussion is, for me, as important a group as, say, the string family and equally capable of expressive playing. Indeed in Medea not only does the orchestra have no violins (the strings are from violas downwards) but the percussion section replaces, in effect, the more conventionally important first violins and my knowledge of the music of Nexus was a major factor in this decision.

Gavin Bryars



Theatre piece for 2 singers.
Published in EMC Visual Anthology.
First performance: Black Swan, York, 30 November 1984



Duration: 12’
Instrumentation: Two pianos,( 6 or 8 hands)
First performance: University of Louvain, Belgium, 12 December 1977.

Note : Out of Zaleski's Gazebo (1977-78)

Out of Zaleski's Gazebo (1977-78)

This piece, for two pianos 6 or 8 hands, was written for a concert given by myself with John White and Christopher Hobbs in Belgium in December 1977. I subsequently made a version for 8 hands to involve my close colleague and friend Dave Smith in 1978. The piece originates in another work, for piano, tuned percussion, tuba and horn called Poggioli in Zaleski's Gazebo which I wrote for John White's first concert of Garden Furniture Music at the AIR Gallery, London earlier in 1977. Poggioli and Zaleski are fictional detectives - from writers T S Stribling and M P Shiel respectively, who represent opposing poles of the detective process. The one blunders from solution to possible solution, while the other is the model of pure ratiocination. (Both, incidentally, are aristocrats.) This two-piano piece contains allusions to the perfumed harmonies of Lord Berners and Siegfried Karg-Elert, with periodic cadences from Percy Grainger breathing diatonic fresh air into the otherwise heady atmosphere. It is played at a relentlessly fast tempo, only slowing down for the gentle coda where, as in White's SS, there is a final false note.

Note : Out of Zaleski's Gazebo (1977-8)

Out of Zaleski's Gazebo (1977-8)

Out of Zaleski's Gazebo, for 2 pianos, 6 or 8 hands, was written at the end of 1977 and is "out of" an earlier chamber piece called Poggioli in Zaleski's Gazebo in which the characteristics of two different fictional detectives (Count Poggioli and Prince Zaleski) are contrasted. Poggioli solved cases by blundering from one solution to another until he happened on the correct one, while Zaleski was a model of pure ratiocination, never leaving his study, playing an air from Lakmé on the harmonium, fingering an Egyptian scarab, and smoking hashish. The perfumed harmonies associated with him are subject to motoric and obsessive repetition, gradually descending in the first half of the piece, and rapidly ascending in the second half. Periodically short cadences from the music of Percy Grainger force a breath of fresh air into the music. The piece was written at a time when I was working in Composer/Performer ensembles with colleagues such as John White and Chris Hobbs with whom I gave the first performance in Belgium in December 1977.

Gavin Bryars



An installation and series of performances devised by the Quay Brothers for various locations in Leeds

Note : Overworlds and Underworlds

Overworlds and Underworlds

This installation, devised by the Quay Brothers involved several components. For "Overworlds" I wrote a number of songs for children's choir and percussion ensemble/recorders based on the music of Carl Orff, but with new poems by Blake Morrison. The songs were performed in a very beautiful Victoria archade in he centre of Leeds by the children's choir of Opera North, with the new songs being sung directly after the Orff song from which they derived.

 

Underworlds had a sound installatuon, designed by Mic Pool, which combined many recorded elements - rehearsal material from the children's songs, recordings of low brass, wind and percussion from the orchestra of Opera North, Leeds Parish Church bells, and many other sources. There were several hour-long pieces which were fed into various spaces in the arches below Leeds railways station. This is an area know as the Dark Arches, where the River Aire had been diverted from its course to allow the station to be built in the 19th century. The performance went on for several hours. Different dance ensembles created dances in these spaces, using the installation sound as a source.

The image shown here was created by sound designer Mic Pool and is one of the most stunning images from the whole event.