By Fire [Per Ignem] (1985)
Games of War and Peace for soprano, mezzo (jazz inflection), baritone soloists, children's choir, organ and orchestra
Duration: ca. 55 minutes
Texts by Walt Whitman, Emile Sercombe, Adrian Mitchell, the composer - and excerpts from the Requiem Mass and other traditional sources
Look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin
I draw near, bend down and touch lightly with my lips
The white face in the coffin. Reconciliation:
Word over all...beautiful as the sky
This large-scale cantata-cum-oratorio was written in 1985 for One World Week at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. It was heard at the Hindley Shulze Festival that year, and includes an extensive part featuring the Schulze organ in St Peter's Church in the town. The orchestra also features three other keyboards! The complete scoring is: 2 fls; ob; 2 cls;ten sax; 2 bsns; 2 hns 2tpts; bass tbn tuba; timp; 4 perc; 3 synth; strings.
||Prelude, for the children's choir, sets a poem about adults being dishonest with children if they hide the truth about war from them and don't admit the young have things to teach them.
||Two Sides introduces Whitman's pan-democratic attitude to life. One of the soloists admits she is a "poet of love...and death". In the staged version the choir divide into two gangs.
||Loud Noise sets Emile Sercombs comic monologue about a planet blowing itself up.
||Lacrimosa is the first setting of a Latin mass text for the three soloists alone.
||Night Questions is almost a popsong; asking rhetorical questions about personal freedom.
||Libera Me is another Latin setting
||Dance of Death... The young "poet" asks how we can fight faceless bombs? A gang member advocates the escapism of drugs and the children intone a demonic Dies Irae with its nightmare vision of Armageddon.
||On the Beach at Cambridge sets Adrian Mitchell's poem, picturing a post-holocaust English landscape.
||Reconciliation is Whitman's hymn to peace at the end of War.
These "Games" can be staged as a series of ritualised "fights". The texts concern various aspects of the reality of conflict and poetic responses to it. A staged performance should begin from an overall concept of how to integrate the Latin and modern poetry using movement and ritual.
Other Music for Young Players or Amateurs:
Suivez la Piste!
Dayspring - a Madrigal for May
Three Carols for 1984
Alice First and Last
The Owl and the Pussycat
Four Traditional Christmas Carol Arrangements
The Darkness Declares
Fanfares and Nocturnes
Ring Out Wild Bells!