Triptych represents the concatenation and re-orchestration of two extant works. Movement I was commissioned with funds from The RVW Trust for the inaugural concert of the Choir of London conducted by Jeremy Summerly in Christ Church, Spitalfields on 18th December, 2004; the work, premièred as Threnody, was subsequently toured by the Choir to Jerusalem and the West Bank from 19th-26th December, 2004. Movements II and III, commissioned by Portsmouth Grammar School with financial support from the PRS Foundation, were premièred as And There Was a Great Calm in a contiguous version for lower strings and upper voices by the Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir and the London Mozart Players in a concert at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral on 13th November, 2005 conducted by Nicolae Moldoveanu. The title of this latter section is taken from Thomas Hardy’s poem of the same name, written at the signing of the Armistice on 11th November, 1918; a couplet from which is set, in a moment of tranquillity, in the final movement.
Relatively new to living in New York, I am much more aware of the independent, vibrant cultural plurality that exists today; it’s probably the single most dazzling facet of the City and is largely responsible for the infamous ‘edginess’ that pervades daily life there. With this in mind, I set to work on Threnody (movement I here) in 2004; I wanted to write something that was relevant to the Israeli/Palestinian issue without losing that City ‘edge’. The texts, in English, are excerpted from a variety of sources: William Penn, William Blake, the Psalms of David and Muhammad Rajab Al-Bayoumi, an Egyptian poet of the early twentieth-century. Fast and rhythmically influenced by the music of North Africa in its syncopations, this movement was the first composition that evolved entirely from my New York perspective.
From the moment that the commission for And There Was a Great Calm (movements II & III here) was offered, I knew the piece I was about to embark upon would end up being linked with Threnody in some way. I realized that what I had been aiming for in Threnody served as a template for this new piece, originally composed for a Remembrance Sunday concert. Musical works connected with commemoration or memorials are often suitably pensive and slow; I wanted to start with that concept, but to bring in some of the relentless urban rhythms that had been such a large influence on my life in the preceding two years. The result is that that the second movement is quiet and gentle (a moment of recollection), while the final movement is much faster and vibrant, returning to a more openly elated rendering of the start of Triptych (the texts here dealing with transmigration and the future).
I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Bruce Ruben and Judith Clurman, as well as that of my parents, with the collation of the texts.
New York, February 2006
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