Towards the psalms
by Betty Beath (2004)
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In mid-April, 2004, I accepted a commission to write a composition based on text by the Canadian writer Anne Michaels, who was to be a distinguished guest at the Brisbane Writers Festival in 2004 and who was author of the award winning novel Fugitive Pieces. My brief was to select text from the novel Fugitive Pieces and create a song cycle which would incorporate narration, and which would be performed by The Southern Cross Soloists. Although at first I found the responsibility of selecting the texts (within a short time-frame) to be daunting, I found the whole experience very satisfying and in many respects deeply moving. The resulting cycle I titled "Towards the Psalms", which was how Anne Michaels desribed the possibility of sound waves carrying 'on to infinity' imagining them 'somewhere in the galaxy, moving towards the psalms'.
There are six songs in the cycle. Each of the texts strongly appealed to me. I began with The Lament of Ovid since it is an actual quotation from the book and although ancient (Ovid's dates 43BC-AD17) the text strikingly depicts events we are experiencing and enduring at this present time.
In creating the cycle I sought to communicate and express, to capture, to 'feel out' the emotion, the mood, the ambience of the words as I had experienced them. Communication of the text was of primary importance to me; but musically, the accompanying instrumentation is equally important.
I made two arrangements of this work: the first for medium voice and piano and the second for medium voice and instrumental ensemble.
Duration: 20 min.
Text selected by the composer from the novel 'Fugitive pieces' by Anne Michaels.
- In the form/style of: Song Cycles
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