A Little Cantata David Lumsdaine
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soprano, treble recorder and piano
A Little Cantata in memoriam Tracey Chadwell
The talented young singer, Tracey Chadwell, died prematurely in 1996 of leukaemia. I had come to know her through her many beautiful performances of both new and familiar music; and most particularly, by working with her on A Norfolk Song Book which I had composed for her and John Turner, just four years previously. She transformed those 10 songs, mostly aphoristic in length, slight in texture (voice and recorder), into a rich and emotionally powerful experience; I had hoped to work much more with her.
But when I was asked to compose a work for a concert to be given in her memory it was already the period when composing music was coming to an end for me.
As with everything else I attempted, I couldn’t find the music for her piece; but in my new-found retreat at the Centre d’Art I Natura at Farrera, high in the Catalan Pyrenees, I did find the words for what I wished to say. They’re hardly poetry, but in turn they led me to the music (and to my last notated composition).
The piece lasts just under four minutes. It was first performed by Alison Wells, John Turner and Keith Swallow at a concert in memory of Tracey Chadwell, October 1996.
1. Piano and recorder.
2. Soprano, piano and recorder.
High mountain meadow:
a sea of flowers,
a wash of butterflies;
3. Piano and recorder.
4. Soprano, piano and recorder.
I gave you some scores.
You, with breath, with passion,
fashioned the music.
You made the songs yours,
your voice became mine;
Some joyful minutes
the music danced;
in the ground of mind.
5. Soprano, piano and recorder.
This cricket, that grasshopper—
it’s the earth that shrills and chants.
This Swallowtail, that Apollo,
the air glides and flutters.
Rocks bake, the scree sears,
clefts of snow etch the high peaks.
Sweet wild cherries, mountain strawberries,
fruit of a season.
This hand, too—
DL, August 1996, Alendo, Pallars Sobirà
- John Turner, Alison Wells and Keith Swallow, October 1996