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Dance by Edouard Lock, after Tchaikovsky
Duration 80’
2 violas, cello, piano
First performance Ottawa April 20th 2007



Tenor and bass recorders
Duration 5’
First performance Peter Bowman and Kathryn Bennetts
May 2007



For string quartet, double bass, piano, percussion
First performance Mr McFall's Chamber, East Neuk Festival June 2007

Note : The Church closest to the Sea (2007)

The Church closest to the Sea (2007)

For string quartet, double bass, piano, percussion

Although ostensibly for a quite conventional instrumentation, the piece reflects something of the unusual character of the ensemble that commissioned it  - Mr McFall's Chamber - and its eclectic approach to repertoire. It features the solo pizzicato double bass, employing the subtly free rhythmic approach of the jazz ballad, with cameo solo parts for the other string instruments. The impetus to write the piece came from a chance meeting with bassist Rick Standley on a flight from Valencia in 2002, which alerted me to the group's ethos. As bassists we found that we had a great deal in common, although we have diametrically opposed views on the electric bass - an instrument which he plays beautifully, but which I loathe.

The title of the work relates to the ensemble's Scottish origins, and to the location of the work's premiere in the East Neuk (the ancient name for Fife). Many years ago I attended a friend's wedding, conducted in English and Scots, in the very lovely 750-year-old St Monans Church, a church built on the rocks by the Firth of Forth, and being the church closest to the sea in Scotland.

It is dedicated to Mr McFall's Chamber

Gavin Bryars, June 2007

 



Version for 13 solo basses
First performance Gary Karr and members of the Karr Kamp
Conductor Gavin Bryars
Basses Loaded, Philip T Young Hall, University of Victoria
July 2007

Note : The Porazzi Fragment (1999)

The Porazzi Fragment (1999)

for 21 solo strings

Commissioned by the Primavera Orchestra, and designed for the orchestra's string formation (11 violins, 4 violas, 4 celli and 2 basses), this piece for strings alone originates in an enigmatic, and unpublished, 13 bar musical theme by Wagner which appears to have been started during the period  when he was composing the second act of Tristan und Isolde, but only finished shortly after the completion of Parsifal in Palermo. At this time Wagner was staying in the palace of Prince Gangi - in the Piazza dei Porazzi - in order to escape the noise outside his hotel the Grand Hotel des Palmes - the same hotel in which Raymond Roussel committed suicide in 1933.

The first 8 bars, of which the eighth was crossed out, date from 1858-9. Yet it was only on March 2nd 1882, in Palermo, that Cosima witnessed his completion of the melody. The crossing out of bar eight and the remaining bars are all written in the same violet ink which he used for the full score of Parsifal. It is also almost certain that this was the music that he was reported to have been playing on the piano the night before he died in February 1883 at the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi in Venice, now the municipal casino and which, as Cosima's diary notes, represents his "last musical thoughts".

The original Wagner music emerges eventually towards the end of the piece - rather in the manner in which the funeral march from Beethoven's 'Eroica' Symphony emerges at the end of Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen (also for solo strings)

Dedicated to my wife, Anya

Gavin Bryars



3 sopranos, tenor
First performance: Trio Mediaeval and John Potter

Note : Text of Lauda 34 "Faciamo laude a tutt'i sancti"

Text of Lauda 34 "Faciamo laude a tutt'i sancti"

There are a couple of words here that I have copied correctly but wonder whether the edition has an error.

e.g "maggiure" line 1 et al
"excelença" (with one l) line 5
"gram" (line 10)

Faciamo laude a tutt'i sancti colla vergene maggiure,
Let us sing praise to all the saints and the noble Virgin,

de buon core, cum dolçe canti, per amor del creatore.
with a good heart, with sweet songs, through the love of the Creator.

 

Per amor del creatore cum timor e reverença,                      
Through the love of the Creator, with fear and reverence,

exultando cum baldore per divina providença                       
exulting with merriment through divine providence

tutt'i sancti per amore, intendiam cum excelença                  
all the saints through love, we intend to make merry

de far festa a lor piagença cum grandissimo fervore.             
for their pleasure, with excellence and the greatest fervour.

 

Faciamo laude a tutt'i sancti colla vergene maggiure,            
Let us sing praise to all the saints, with the noble Virgin,

de buon core, cum dolçe canti, per amor del creatore.          
with a good heart, with sweet songs, through the love of the Creator.

 

Re, filiol, de grande imperio, ke regete tutto'l mondo           
O King, Son of the mighty ruler, you who rule the whole world,

per virtù del gram misterio de lo spirito iocundo,                 
through the grace of the great mystery of the jovial spirit,

a voi sì faciam preghero ke mandiate pace al mondo           
we make our prayer to you so that you will send peace to the world

entr'a la gente cristiana ke non viva in tanto errore.            
among the Christian people who do not live in too much sin.

 

Faciamo laude a tutt'i sancti colla vergene maggiure,           
Let us sing praise to all the saints, with the noble Virgin,

de buon core, cum dolçe canti, per amor del creatore.         
with a good heart, with sweet songs, through the love of the Creator.

 

Tutta gente dican ave a la vergen madre de' sancti,             
All people say "Hail!" to the Virgin Mother of the saints,

k'ell'à ingemgnosa kiave ke li serra tutto quanti:                 
for she has the ingenious key which locks everything there is:

ell'è porto lor suave, ell'è stella de l'irranti;                         
she is their sweet harbour, she is the star of the lost,

tutta la celestial corte la resguarda tutto l'ore.                    
the whole heavenly court gazes at her at every hour.

 

Faciamo laude a tutt'i sancti colla vergene maggiure,          
Let us sing praise to all the saints, with the noble Virgin,

de buon core, cum dolçe canti, per amor del creatore.        
with a good heart, with sweet songs, through the love of the Creator.



Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration: c. 6'
Male Choir
First performance Estonia Symphony Hall, Tallinn January 30 2008
Estonian National Male Choir, conductor Kaspars Putnins

Note : The Summons

The Summons

The year was ending, and the land lay still.

Despite our countdown, we were loath to go,

kept padding along the ridge, the broad glow

of the city beneath us, and the hill

swirling with a little mist. Stars were right,

plans, power; only now this unforeseen

reluctance, like a slate we could not clean

of characters, yet could not read, or write

our answers on, or smash, or take with us.

Not a hedgehog stirred. We sighed, climbed in, locked.

If it was love we felt, would it not keep,

and travel where we travelled? Without fuss

we lifted off, but as we checked and talked

a far horn grew to break that people's sleep.

 

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)



Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration: c. 3'
Male Choir
First performance Estonia Symphony Hall, Tallinn January 30 2008
Estonian National Male Choir, conductor Kaspars Putnins

Note : Text of Memento

Text of Memento

over the cliff-top and into the mist

across the heather and down to the peat

here with the sheep and where with the peeweet

through the stubble and by the pheasant's tryst

above the pines and past the northern lights

along the voe and out to meet he ice

among the stacks and round their kreidekreis

in summer lightning and beneath white nights

behind the haar and in front of the tower

beyond the moor and against writ and ring

below the mort-gate and outwith all kind

under the hill and at the boskless bower

over the hills and far away to bring

over the hills and far away to mind

 

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)



Text: George Bruce
Duration 10'
Male choir, solo double bass, solo baritone, strings (violas, celli, basses)

Note : Ian in the Broch

Ian in the Broch

For solo baritone, solo double bass, male choir, strings

Text: George Bruce

For a recent work, for string quartet and 4 part vocal ensemble commissioned for Steve Reich's 70th birthday, I chose two poems by the Scottish poet George Bruce, whose work I discovered when setting sonnets by Edwin Morgan. I decided to use his poem, Ian in the Broch, for a new work for the Estonian National Male Choir and to use the same forces as those in Schubert's Gesang der Geister über den Wassen, which is included in my concert with the choir. Schubert uses only low strings (violas downwards), which is something I have used in many works starting with my first opera Medea (1982) and this is a formation that characterises my own ensemble, which has 2 violas, cello and bass at its heart. Here, though, I also add a solo baritone voice and an obligato solo double bass (written specially for Daniel Nix, the soloist in my bass concerto, which also has no violins in the orchestra).

George Bruce is a poet from the east of Scotland (Edwin Morgan is from the west) and write also in Scots, an essentially east coast language (Gaelic is from the west) and wrote a number of poems in this language (Edwin Morgan translated Mayakovsky into Scots). "Broch", for example, is the local Scots name for the east coast fishing port Fraserburgh, George Bruce's home town and he also uses two Scots expressions in this poem: "fou's aa?"  ("how's everybody?") and "fit's deein?" ("what's doing?"). Ian in the Broch is a poem whose narrative is revealed in its dedication:

"To Ian McNab, civil engineer and singer, who sang the Iona Gloria in St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh, at a commemoration of the 1400th anniversary of the death of Saint Columba, memorably."

There are references in the poem to the occasion when George Bruce and Ian McNab climbed the steps of the Kinnaird Head lighthouse whose three ton light could be moved by one finger, once set in motion. Bruce from one of his poems, which referred to "ballbearing frictionless lamp" but Ian McNab pointed out that they were not ballbearings but "tapered rollers" and this was the genesis of the poem.

In my setting I allude several times to Schubert's piece, especially in the orchestral strings. However, I do not quote the Iona Gloria directly, but rather allow an extended, almost baroque, expression of "Gloria" as the duet for baritone solo and double bass that ends the piece. I take this idea from the fact that, in the poem, the word is written "GLORIA!" in capital letters, and followed by an exclamation mark!

Gavin Bryars

Note : Text of Ian in the Broch

Text of Ian in the Broch

(To Ian McNab, civil engineer and singer, who sang the Iona Gloria in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, at a commemoration of the 1400th anniversary of the death of Saint Columba, memorably.)

Returned, but never away.

Rain storms at arrival, but

sun prevails. Brightness is all,

white on the wings of the glancing

fulmar. Wave breaks, white light

shakes from its blue. All one

to him at the centre, an internet

in himself: hardly a step

at the harbour, and another

McNab has a word with him.

This is the flower of friendships

engendered in the generations,

caught up now in this talk-talking

town, aaye toun, 'fou's aa?'

'fit's deeing?', and on again

as if heaven were not about him

in this place in time, where

the running boy runs forever

in the mind, yet he would know,

know his place, know how

the lighthouse light projects its beam,

timely, exact on the dark waters.

But look at the tapered rollers

bearing the weight of the

gyrating mirrors, steel supports,

that issue the light to all seamen.

Now he walks the town simply

as if the common talk's enough,

but from him, from head and lips -

GLORIA!

 

George Bruce



Choir and organ
First performance: Billesdon Church Choir; Choirmaster Stephen Baden-Fuller; organist Roger Marvin.
December 23 2007 St John the Baptist Church, Billesdon

Note : The Golden Carol of the Three Kings Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar

The Golden Carol of the Three Kings Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar

We saw the light shine out afar,
On Christmas in the morning,
And straight we knew Christ's Star it was,
Bright beaming in the morning,

Then did we fall on bended knee,
On Christmas in the morning,
And praised the Lord, who'd let us see
His glory at its dawning.

Oh! Every thought be of His name,
On Christmas in the morning,
Who bore for us the grief and shame,
Affliction's sharpest scorning.

And may we die, when death shall come,
On Christmas in the morning,
And see in Heav'n, our glorious home,
The Star of Christmas morning.


---Old English Carol

Note : New Prince, New Pomp

New Prince, New Pomp

Behold, a seely tender babe

In freezing winter night

In homely manger trembling lies--

Alas, a piteous sight!

The inns are full, no man will yield

This little pilgrim bed,

But forced he is with seely beasts

In crib to shroud his head.

Despise him not for lying there;

First, what he is enquire.

An orient pearl is often found

In depth of dirty mire.

Weigh not his crib, his wooden dish,

Nor beasts that by him feed;

Weigh not his mother's poor attire

Nor Joseph's simple weed.

This stable is a prince's court,

This crib his chair of state,

The beasts are parcel of his pomp,

The wooden dish his plate.

The persons in that poor attire

His royal liveries wear;

The prince himself is come from heaven--

This pomp is prizëd there.

With joy approach, O Christian wight;

Do homage to thy king;

And highly prize his humble pomp

Which he from heaven doth bring.

Robert Southwell
( 1561-1595)



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



Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration c.5'
Male Choir

Note : The Mirror

The Mirror

There is a mirror only we can see.

It hangs in time and not in space. The day

goes down in it without ember or ray

and the newborn climb through it to be free.

The multitudes of the world cannot know

they are reflected there; like glass they lie

in glass, shadows in shade, they could not cry

in airless wastes but that is where they go.

We cloud it, but it pulses like a gem,

it must have caught a range of energies

from the dead. We breathe again; nothing shows.

Back in space, ubi solitudinem

faciunt pacem appellant. Ages

drum-tap the flattened homes and slaughtered rows.

 

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)



Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration c.5'
Male Choir

Note : Text of Post-Glacial

Text of Post-Glacial

The glaciers melt slowly in the sun.

The ice groans as it shrinks back to the pole.

Loud splits and cracks send shudders through the shoal

of herring struggling northwards, but they run

steadily on into the unknown roads

and the whole stream of life runs with them. Brown

islands hump up in the white of land, down

in the valleys a fresh drained greenness loads

fields like a world first seen, and when mild rains

drive back the blizzards, a new world it is

of grain that thrusts its frenzied spikes, and trees

whose roots race under the stamped-out remains

of nomad Grampian fires. Immensities

are mind, not ice, as the bright straths unfreeze.

 

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)



Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration c.5'
Male Choir

Note : Text of A Golden Age

Text of A Golden Age

That must have been a time of happiness.

The air was mild, the Campsie Fells had vines.

Dirigible parties left soft sky-signs

and bursts of fading music. Who could guess

what they might not accomplish, they had seas

in cities, cities in the sea; their domes

and crowded belvederes hung free, their homes

eagle-high or down among whitewashed quays.

And women sauntered often with linked arms

through night streets, or alone, or danced a maze

with friends. Perhaps it did not last. What lasts?

The bougainvillea millenniums

may come and go, but then in thistle days

a strengthened seed outlives the hardest blasts.

 

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)

 

 



Tenor, electric guitar, 2 violas, cello, bass
Duration c. 4'
First performance John Potter, Gavin Bryars ensemble
St Georges Brandon Hill, Bristol May 2 2008

Note : Text of Lauda 35 L'alto prince archangelo

Text of Lauda 35 L'alto prince archangelo

L'alto prençe archangelo lucente,                The mighty prince, the gleaming archangel,

sancto Michel, laudi ciascun scente.            Saint Michael, everyone sings your praises.

 

Sovente lo laudiamo, et ubidença               We praise him continually, and each of us

ciascun li facia cum gram reverença,           obeys his word with great veneration,

k'ell'è ministro de l'omnipotença                 for he is the minister of the Almighty

per l'anima receper da la gente.                 and through his spirit receives the people.

 

L'alto prençe archangelo lucente,                The mighty prince, the gleaming archangel,

sancto Michel, laudi ciascun scente.            Saint Michael, everyone sings your praises.

 

La gente cristiana li è commisa                   We Christian people were delegated by him

per guardar et per condur pace 'nfra essa;   to guard and to bring peace among ourselves;

ma la superbia in fra noi si'è messa             but pride was also placed among us,

ke'l suo contrario è venuto a niente.            which is peace's opposite - and comes to nothing.

 

L'alto prençe archangelo lucente,                The mighty prince, the gleaming archangel,

sancto Michel, laudi ciascun scente.            Saint Michael, everyone sings your praises.

 

Gaudente star po' cum gram scigurança;     I may remain in gladness with great certainty

chi'n questo mondo à pace et consolança;   that in this world there is peace and consolation;

sancto Michel l'aita a la bilança.                  Saint Michael is our help and our balance.

Folle chi'm soperbia resta fervente.             Foolish is he who spends his fervour on pride.

 

L'alto prençe archangelo lucente,                The mighty prince, the gleaming archangel,

sancto Michel, laudi ciascun scente.            Saint Michael, everyone sings your praises.

 

Selene Mills

16 April 2008



Soprano, tenor, viola, bass clarinet, double bass
Duration c. 5'
First performance Anna Maria Friman, John Potter, Gavin Bryars Ensemble
Milan Literary Festival June 2008

Note : Text of Lauda 36 Gloria 'n cielo

Text of Lauda 36 Gloria 'n cielo

Gloria 'n cielo e pace 'n terra,            Glory in heaven and peace on earth:

nat'è 'l nostro salvatore.                    our Saviour is born.

 

Nat'è glorioso,                                 The glorious one is born,

l'alto Dio maravellioso;                     the mighty and marvellous God;

fact'è homo desideroso                     the kind Creator

lo benigno creatore.                         has become the man He loves.

 

Gloria 'n cielo e pace 'n terra,           Glory in heaven and peace on earth:

nat'è 'l nostro salvatore.                   our Saviour is born.

 

Pace'n terra sia cantata;                   May peace on earth be sung;

gloria'n cielo desiderata;                   may glory in heaven be desired;

la donçella consecrata                       the holy maiden

parturit'à'l salvatore.                         has borne the Saviour.

 

Gloria 'n cielo e pace 'n terra,            Glory in heaven and peace on earth:

nat'è 'l nostro salvatore.                    our Saviour is born.

 

Nel presepe era beato                       The blessed Saviour lay in a manger,

quei ke in cielo è contemplato,           who is adored in heaven;

dai santi desiderato                           he is worshipped by the saints

reguardando el suo splendore.           when they behold his splendour.

 

Gloria 'n cielo e pace 'n terra,            Glory in heaven and peace on earth:

nat'è 'l nostro salvatore.                    our Saviour is born.

 

Selene Mills

16 April 2008



Text: St Brendan, Tróndur
Solo soprano, solo bass, choir (SATB), chamber orchestra
Duration c. 30'
First performance, Gøtu, Faroe Islands, July 12 2008
Eivør Palsdottir, Rúni Brattaberg, choir, Aldúbaran, conductor Gavin Bryars



Soprano, tenor, solo trumpet, viola, cello, bass, electric guitar
Duration c. 6'
First performance Anna Maria Friman, John Potter, Arve Henkrisen, Gavin Bryars Ensemble, Punkt Festival, Kristiansand, Norway, Sept 5 2008

Note : Text of Lauda 37

Text of Lauda 37

Ciascun ke fede sente

vegn'a laudar sovente

l'alto sant' Antonio beato

 

Ciascun laudare et amare

lo dea de buon coragio,

ké' de ben fare sé forçare

volse piccolo etagio.

tutt'ore pensare formare

com'a Dio fare humagio

potesse, d'Ulisbona si parte,

se consuma legenda,

là unde fo nato.

 

Ciascun ke fede sente

vegn'a laudar sovente

l'alto sant' Antonio beato

 

In grande amore, di core

Dio l'ebbe omnipotente,

k'el fece doctore, victore,

del faro providente:

e dieli kiarore splendore

de vedere veramente

la soma deitade nella grande infertade

de la quale passò e'l glorificato.

 

Ciascun ke fede sente

vegn'a laudar sovente

l'alto sant' Antonio beato

 

Sia gloriata, laudata

l'altissima maiestà;

ringratiata orrata, [orata?]

ke del mond'è podesta,

de la beata ornate [ornata?]

virgo nato con festa.

Lui cum gran di humilitança

dimandiam perdonança

ke al iudicio si dal directo lato.

 

Ciascun ke fede sente

vegn'a laudar sovente

l'alto sant' Antonio beato.

Amen.

 

 

 

Let every one who senses faith

come often to praise

the great saint, blessed Anthony.

 

Everyone should praise and adore him

for his great courage,

who resolved to live a life of doing good

from a young age.

All the time he thought about

how he could pay homage to God,

and he departed from Lisbon,

where he was born -

if the story is to be believed.

 

Let every one who senses faith

come often to praise

the great saint, blessed Anthony.

 

In his great love,

God was omnipotent in his heart,

and made him a doctor, a victor,

a provider of food:

and God gave him the shining clarity

to see truly

the highest godhead in his great affliction

through which he suffered and was glorified.

 

Let every one who senses faith

come often to praise

the great saint, blessed Anthony.

 

May his highest majesty

be glorified and praised,

thanked and raised in prayer,

who is the power of the world,

born of the blessed virgin

with celebration.

Let us ask pardon,

with great humility,

of him who faced our judgment for us.

 

Let every one who senses faith

come often to praise

the great saint, blessed Anthony.

Amen.



11 pieces for tenor voice, electric guitar, 2 violas, cello, bass
Text, Anonymous, Gaelic (9th to 16th century)
First performance (7 pieces) Iarla O'Lionaird, voice, Leo Abrahams, guitar, Gavin Bryars, bass, members of the Crash Ensemble
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin November 2008
(others performed March/April 2009, Waterford and Limerick)



Text anonymous Gaelic 16th century
Setting of old unaccompanied melody for tenor and ensemble (Part of Anail De project)
First performance: Iarla O'Lionaird, voice, Leo Abrahams, guitar, Gavin Bryars, bass, members of the Crash Ensemble
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin November 2008



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