September 2007 – October 2008
Where the Eye can see
June 2008 | Handel House
This piece takes as its inspiration a page of manuscript of an aria from Handel’s 1751 revival of Esther. The piece is scored for soprano, violin, cello, recorders and harpsichord. Esther is the protagonist of the piece, which is driven by the voice. The libretto, by Ignacio Agrimbau, is a colourful text and full of imagery. It addresses aspects of Esther’s story that neither the Bible nor Handel’s oratorio deals with. Composer and librettist worked in dialogue, with the composing affecting the writing, and new bits of text affecting already-sketched parts of the piece. The piece makes use of some elements of Baroque music, for example: recitative and aria-like vocalisation, descending bass lines and typical ornamentation. Parts of Handel’s aria were transformed and made into melodies and bass lines, and on one page of the score, Handel’s handwriting itself becomes the subject of graphic notation.
In 2002 Kathy Bradley – a close family friend – died and I resolved to write a piece in memoriam. Kathy taught me at primary school and not only could I recall many of her lessons, trips and activities, I also vividly remembered her teaching the Salve Regina (her favourite prayer) to the class. I had initially planned to base my piece on Handel’s own Salve Regina, but subsequently learnt that Kathy had requested Musick for the Royal Fireworks for her wedding. Thus, the piece transforms some of the melodies from this piece and gives the performers freedom to combine them in different ways.