TWO PAGAN CHORUSES
These two choruses were conceived specifically with piano accompaniment in mind, and both for the same group, the WMA Singers who gave the first performances in London. Both include baritone soloist, and are designed for a choir with a smaller than usual body of tenor voices.
Away to Egypt!
Only one God has ever died.
Only one God has let his side
be wounded by a soldier’s spear.
But these, thy lovers, are not dead.
Still from his chair of porphyry
gaunt Memnon strains his lidless eyes,
and cries each yellow morning unto thee.
Still by the hundred cubit gate
dog-faced Anubis sits in state
with lotus lilies for thy head.
And Nilus with his broken horn
lies in his black and oozy bed
and till thy coming will not spread
his waters on the withering corn.
Your lovers are not dead, I know.
They will rise up, and hear your voice
and clash their cymbals and rejoice
and run to kiss thy mouth!
And so, set wings upon your argosies!
Set horses to your ebon car!
Back to your Nile! or if you are
grown sick of dead divinities
follow some roving lion’s spoor
across the copper-coloured plain,
reach out and hale him by the mane
and bid him be your paramour!
Couch by his side upon the grass
and set your white teeth in his throat
and when you hear his dying note
lash your long flanks of polished brass,
and take a tiger for your mate,
whose amber sides are flecked with black,
and ride upon his gilded back
in triumph through the Theban Gate,
and toy with him in amorous jests,
and when he turns, and snarls, and gnaws,
O smite him with your jasper claws!
and bruise him with your agate breasts!
Richard Wagner translated by the composer
The old world lies in ruins from which a new world shall arise; for the sublime goddess Revolution comes rushing on on the wings of the storm, her august head rayed round with lightnings, a sword in her right hand, a torch in her left, her eyes so sullen, so sombre, so punitive, so solemn and so cold! And yet what warmth of purest love, what fullness of happiness, radiate from her towards them who dare to look steadfastly into that sombre eye! Rushing and roaring she comes, the ever-rejuvenating mother of mankind, destroying and blessing she sweeps across the earth, before her pipes the storm, it shakes so violently the world of Man that vast clouds of dust darken the air, and where her mighty foot falls, the ages’ idle whims crash in ruins, and the hem of her robe sweeps the last remains of it away. But in her wake there opens out a paradise of happiness, illumed by kindly sunbeams; and where her feet have trodden down spring fragrant flowers from the soil, and jubilant songs of freed mankind fill full the air scarce silent from the din of battle.
TAIN CÂN GWMREIG
The three Welsh folksong arrangements linked together in Tair Cân Gwmreig were intended to be a more elaborate exploration of the folksong arrangements I had made earlier but have never been performed. They remain the last works I have written for male choir to date.
Dacw ’nghariad i
Dacw ’nghariad hwr y berllan,
O na bawn i yno fy hunan,
Dacw’r ty, a dacw’r ’sgubor,
dacw ddrws y beudy’n agor,
Dacw dderwen wych ganghenog,
golwg arni sydd dra serchog;
mi arhosaf dan ei chysgod
nes daw ’nghariad i ’nghyfarfod.
Dacw’r delyn, dacw’r tannau,
Beth wyf gwell heb neb i chwarae?
Dacw’r feinwen heonus fanwl,
beth wyf nes heb gael ei meddwl?
Ym Mhontypridd mae ’nghariad
Ym Mhontypridd mae ’mwriad,
ym Mhontypridd mae ’nghariad;
ym Mhontypridd mae’r ferch fâch lân,
a’i chael o fla’n y ’ffeiriad.
Mi hela’ heddiw unswllt,
mi hela’ fory ddeuswllt,
a chyn y colla’i ferch ei mam
mi trela’i am y triswllt.
Mi glywais lawer caniad,
mi welais lawer bariad,
mi welais lawer benyw lân,
ond neb mor lân â ’nghariad.
Mae ’mwthyn ger yr afon,
mae gennyf wartheg blithion,
mae gennyf ffarm ar lannau Taf,
o tyred ataf, Gwenfron.
Ffarwel i blwy’ Llangower
Ffarwel i blwy’ Llangower,
a’r Bala dirion deg,
ffarwel fy annwyl gariad
nid wyf yn enwi neb;
’rwy’n mynd i wlad y Saeson,
a’m calon fel y plwym,
i ddawnsio flaen y delyn
ac i chwarae o flaen y drwm.
SONGS OF THE MARK
The Songs of the Mark were part of an abortive opera cycle on which I was working during the 1970s based on J R R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. They were originally intended to have full orchestral accompaniment, but at that time never progressed beyond short score. Subsequently they have been fully scored and form part of The Lord of the Rings: episodes and fragments.
The ride of the Rohirrim
From dark Dunharrow in the dim morning
with thane and captain rode Thengel’s son;
to Edoras he came, the ancient halls
of the march-wardens mist-enshrouded.
Farewell he bade to his free people,
hearth and high-seat, and the hallowed places
where long he had feasted ere the light faded.
Forth rode the King, fear behind him, foe before him.
Fealty kept he; oaths he had taken, all fulfilled them.
Forth rode Théoden. Five nights and days
eastward and onward rode the Eorlingas
through Folde and Fenmarch and the Firien Wood,
six thousand spears to Sunlending,
Mundberg the mighty under Mindolluin,
Sea-Kings’ City in the South-Kingdom,
Doom drove them on. Darkness took them,
horse and horseman; hoofbeats after
sank into silence. So the songs tell us.
Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day’s rising
he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.
Théoden King, Théoden King!
As a father you were to me, for a little while.
THREE PARTSONGS for mixed choir
These three partsongs form part of a projected oratorio on W B Yeats’s The Wanderings of Óisin, which grew in turn out of the work for seven clarinets of the same name. The oratorio only ever remained fragmentary; and these three sections were expected to form the prologue, an interlude towards the end of the score, and the epilogue. The second song was in turn transformed to become the final movement of my Saxophone Sonata.
I wander by the edge of this desolate lake
where the wind cries in the sedge:
Until the axle break
that keeps the stars in their round
and hands hurl in the deep
the banners of East and West,
and the girdle of light is unbound,
your heart will not rest
by the breast of your beloved in sleep.
I hear my soul drop down into decay,
and Mannanan’s dark tower, stone by stone
gather salt slime and fall the seaward way,
and the moon goad the waters night and day,
till all be overthrown.
But till the moon has taken all, I wage
war on the mightiest men under the skies,
and they have fallen or fled, age after age.
Light is man’s love, and lighter is man’s rage;
his purpose drifts and dies.
The mystery of the Immortal Rose
The Powers whose name and shape no living creature knows
have plucked the Immortal Rose;
and though the Seven Lights bowed their heads and wept,
the Polar Dragon slept,
his heavy rings uncoiled from glimmering Deep to Deep;
when will he wake from sleep?
Great Powers of falling wave and wind and windy fire,
with your harmonious choir
encircle her I love and sing her into peace,
that my old care may cease;
unfold your flaming wings and cover out of sight
the nets of day and night.
Dim Powers of shadowy thought, let her no longer be
like the pale cup of the sea,
when winds have gathered and Sun and Moon burned dim
above its cloudy rim;
but let a gentle silence wrought with music flow
whither her footsteps go.
HYMN OF SAINT CECILIA
This work, to a text by Geoffrey Chaucer from The Golden Legend which he also used in the Second Nun’s Tale in The Canterbury Tales, is an address by Saint Cecilia to her fellow martyrs before their deaths. The paraphrase of the original Middle English poem is by the composer.
The setting, for mixed choir with organ accompaniment, was written to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Academy of Saint Cecilia in Auckland, New Zealand.
Christ’s own beloved sons, be not afraid,
and cast away from you all works of darkness.
Go, garb yourselves, put on the arms of brightness.
You have in truth fought a good fight, your course
is finished, and your task you have achieved.
Take the unfading crown of righteousness.
The Lord, the righteous judge whom you have served,
shall give it to you, as you have deserved.
SIX PAGAN CHANTS
Chant to the Goddesses
Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate,
Demeter, Kali, Innanna!
Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate,
Demeter, Kali, Innanna!
Hoof and horn
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn,
all that dies shall be reborn.
Corn and grain, corn and grain,
all that dies shall live again.
Earth my body
Earth my body, Water my blood,
Air my breath and Fire my spirit.
We all come from the Goddess
We all come from the Goddess,
and to her we will return
like a drop of rain
flowing to the ocean.
Hymn to the Goddesses
I am wise in the name of Hecate;
Innanna has come to set me free.
I am strong in the name of Diana;
I am the Goddess and the Goddess is me.
I am Innanna.
Hymn to Love
Strong like the ocean,
gentle like rain,
river, wash my tears way,