Songs of Loneliness was recorded in the autumn of 2020; the oldest music on the disc dates back to 2016. Here is a selection of my poems and paintings, which shed some light on those volatile years.
Little Wax Candle
This poem was written in October 2018, shortly after I completed my orchestral work The Candle Lagoon and its accompanying fable. I had recently begun sketching Vignette and was reading lots of poetry to help me think differently about how I could structure the piece.
Chin dribbles Spots plop Fallen star Wick soldier-straight Flame-eyed Belly bent Halo-helmet tangerine Little candle Uncook yourself Squelch apart Speechlessly Spill your guts to me. Poor little Wax candle More than the sum Of your parts
Where Rain Settles (No. 3 from Three Lunar Odes)
I wrote Three Lunar Odes between January and April 2019. Reeling from the sudden and tragic passing of my friend, Alex Ross, I was working on both It Comes In Waves and Constellations at the time.
So, to bed! cry stars Not to sleep – croons the soul melted in moon. Decreed on high enthroned in charcoal – over a sky of smothered cinnabar. Spider weaves spider leaves lace about the orb – only see where rain settles.
for Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon is one of several artists (such as Matisse, Giacometti, Kossoff and Henry Moore) whose work I always consult when seeking creative inspiration. This poem was written around the same time as our recording sessions; it seems to share an aesthetic with the inner movements of Songs of Loneliness.
Cupboard piled high Choked with sliced skins It began with the lamb One skin stares into the sun Another enrobed in teeth This one with lips Left of the sternum The lamb could not die When limbs wore thin Skins, charred remembrance Flakes feather-breath Stuffed at the tear Someone opened This cupboard of Skins. Piled high Skins Have we been lied to
John’s Last Day
I painted this portrait after the passing of the bassoonist, conductor and Endymion founder John Whitfield in November 2019. The music I wrote during the first half of 2020 reflects not only the loneliness many of us experienced in lockdown but also my profound sorrow at losing such a wonderful mentor.
The Candle Lagoon (diptych)
The title of this large diptych derives from an orchestral piece I wrote in 2018, which receives its second performance at this year’s Proms at St. Jude’s. I wrote a short fairy tale to accompany the piece:
It is told that if you pass the Lagoon at sunset, light a candle and whisper your deepest secret to the Waters, the Waters will respond by summoning forth from the depths of the Lagoon a vision of your future. One evening, a child approaches the Lagoon. It lights a candle and speaks forth its secret. It sees only itself, the burning clouds and the setting sun, a ball of fire nestled under the waves. The child concludes that either the old story is a lie or the world is without a future. As the Waters turn cold, it realises these two possibilities may in fact be only one.
Stained Glass (diptych)
Stained Glass was created in response to live clarinet and bass-clarinet improvisations by Raymond Brien, who performs Constellations on this album.