Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Harmony by Julian Anderson

The Richard Jefferies Society has written to a young British composer congratulating him on his opening composition for the first night of the BBC Proms (12th July).

 The new work entitled Harmony, for choir and orchestra, by Julian Anderson lasted 5 minutes, was commissioned by the BBC and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. The piece was inspired by Richard Jefferies’ autobiography The Story of My Heart and words taken from it included:

 The clock may make time for itself; there is none for me...The shadow goes on upon the dial, the index moves round upon the clock, and what is the difference? None whatever. If the clock had never been set going, what would have been the difference?

In the introduction to the BBC broadcast Anderson was quoted as saying that you can launch a concert opening with two approaches: a ‘loud fanfare’ or ‘calm and meditative’. He preferred the latter and described Jefferies as a mystic author who had visions on the Wiltshire downs of time standing still and of eternity. Harmony was a celebration of Jefferies’ vivid nature writing. Tibetan bowls and rain-sticks were played as part of the instrumentation - they have a hypnotic sound that Jefferies would have enjoyed.

In a review in The Telegraph on 13th July, Ivan Hewitt wrote that ‘it was a nice conceit, to begin the world’s largest music festival with something called Harmony, and the piece caught with delicate precision the idea that music stopped the ordinary clock time.’

The interview and composition was broadcast on BBC radio 3 and can be played at: