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Tarik O'Regan

Publisher: Novello & Co

Solitude Trilogy (2010)
Work Notes
Timings: Movement 1: 9' Movement 2: 5'30" Movement 3: 5'30"
Text Writer
1. WB Yeats 2. Edward Thomas 3. WB Yeats
Novello & Co Ltd
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
20 Minutes

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Programme Note
Tarik O'Regan Solitude Trilogy (2010)
Solitude Trilogy takes for its title that of a series of three radio documentaries made by Canadian pianist Glenn Gould for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation between 1967 and 1977 (The Idea of North, The Latecomers & The Quiet in the Land). One might describe each of these documentaries as "contrapuntal radio", for the recordings of the interviewees are edited by Gould to overlap and run simultaneously for long periods of time.

My work, which sets three poems (two by William Butler Yeats and one by Edward Thomas) in three movements, echoes Gould's fascination with the ambiguity of withdrawal. In each text, however, it is a bird which stands for the character of isolation. The strings, harp, solo singers and chorus provide a gently contrapuntal commentary on Gould's vision throughout the piece.

Tarik O'Regan

I. The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves,
The brilliant moon and all the milky sky,
And all that famous harmony of leaves,
Had blotted out man's image and his cry.
A girl arose that had red mournful lips
And seemed the greatness of the world in tears,
Doomed like Odysseus and the labouring ships
And proud as Priam murdered with his peers;
Arose, and on the instant clamorous eaves,
A climbing moon upon an empty sky,
And all that lamentation of the leaves,
Could but compose man's image and his cry.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

II. In the gloom of whiteness,
In the great silence of snow,
A child was sighing
And bitterly saying: "Oh,
They have killed a white bird up there on her nest,
The down is fluttering from her breast!"
And still it fell through that dusky brightness
On the child crying for the bird of the snow.
Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

III. O, curlew, cry no more in the air,
Or only to the waters in the West;
Because your crying brings to my mind
Passion dimmed eyes and long heavy hair
That was shaken out over my breast:
There is enough evil in the crying of wind.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Preview the score:

  • 07 DEC 2014
    Minneapolis, U.S.A.
    First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis
    Stirling, conductor
  • 05 NOV 2010
    Solitude Trilogy World Premiere
    Chan Theater, Vancouver, Canada
    Vancouver Chamber Choir

The piece is, to put it bluntly, exquisite. The music... conveys a sense of distance and isolation and plays on the polarity of birds and human beings, that is, the distance that exists between them. The unattainability of birds is a kind of objective correlative of the piece, which uses birds to say something very touching about the human condition. The music is beautifully written and as skillfully scored for the instruments as it is for voice. Full review
Lloyd Dykk, Georgia Straight (Vancouver),08/11/2010
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