Thursday Lunchtimes: A Tribute to Lucy Hale (1.15pm)

Lucy Hale:

because time will not run backwards (2014)
Amy Gray, Charlie Saunders, Thomas Bain, Xuanhan Wang percussion

Unreal City (2016, World Première)
Elena Orsi, Pia Bromby violins
Hannah Borlase viola
Kara Taylor cello

Interrupted (2016)
Nika Novak, Ravi Nathwani, Tom Dale, Christopher Godhard guitars

Zeta (2018)
Matthew Jones, Sinead Walsh, Lok-Yin Hui, Jack Belcher flutes

In The Wind (2017)
Matthew Jones flute
Ben Jarvis trumpet
Elena Orsi violin
Hannah Borlase viola
Kara Taylor cello

Four Folk Tunes (2018)
Elena Orsi, Pia Bromby violins
Hannah Borlase viola
Kara Taylor cello

Programme notes:

Because time will not go backwards for percussion quartet (2014)

My first step towards writing because time will not go backwards was to choose the instruments. I had decided to restrict myself to fairly limited pitch material so chose my tuned instruments – tubular bells and crotales – for their colour as opposed to their melodic capabilities. I chose side drums for their rhythmic and dynamic capabilities and temple blocks to provide a clock-like effect, for instance at bars 12 – 21. I considered the possibility of using a bicycle but decided to use a wheelchair instead because, in a live performance situation, a wheelchair would be unusual and therefore striking visually. I also knew I had easy access to a disused one from my past and, having explored the variety of sounds that could be made using one, decided it was equally musically viable.

The title is a quote from a poem by Wendy Cope called A Nursery Rhyme (as it might have been written by T.S. Elliot). The sections of the piece never repeat in exactly the same way, like moments can never be relived the same way twice. This piece has a rough ‘ABA1B1’ structure. Sections A and A1 last from bar 1 – 11 and bar 46 – 83 respectively and are characterised by generally loud dynamics, less delicate use of the tuned instruments and a sense of rhythmic urgency. Sections B and B1 run from bar 12 – 45 and bar 84 to the end. They are characterised by generally quieter dynamics, more atmospheric, coloristic writing and the clock-like rhythm in the temple blocks and side drums.

Note by Lucy Hale.

Unreal City for string quartet (2016)

‘Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge’

T. S. Eliot – The Waste Land

Interrupted for guitar quartet (2016)

This piece was written in response to Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words Op 19 No 1. The accompaniment from Mendelssohn’s work inspired the main melodic material throughout the beginning of this piece. The consistency of Mendelssohn’s accompaniment also inspired the use of repeating accompanying rhythms in this piece. The flow of the melodic material is consistently interrupted by the repeating note patterns which accompany it, as well as by chords and rests.

Gradually, the repeating rhythms which make up the melody and accompaniment at the beginning of the piece give way to less regular material which is more unstable. This new material is alternately delicate and aggressive and all the while it is still repeatedly interrupted by both chords and rests. It is not until the piece’s final bars that the interruptions cease and the melodic material, which has become abrasive and rhythmically unstable, is heard from all four guitars simultaneously, free from interruptions by rests or accompanying material.

Interrupted was premiered on March 4th 2016 in the Royal Northern College of Music
Studio Theatre by Sam Rodwell, Donald Candy, Owen Bunting and Bradley Johnson.

Note by Lucy Hale.

Zeta for flute quartet (2018)

Commissioned for The Music of the Primes (part of Manchester Science Festival 2018), Zeta was inspired by the mathematical concept of the ‘zeta landscape’. In mathematics, feeding imaginary numbers into a function produces a graph that resembles a landscape. The zeta landscape is produced by feeding imaginary numbers into the zeta function and predicts which numbers will be prime numbers and which will not, though whether it does so accurately indefinitely is as yet unproven.

Zeta is in part a musical depiction of images of the zeta landscape, and in part a story of somebody finding themselves literally inside the landscape and having the opportunity to explore it.

Note by Lucy Hale.

In the Wind for flute, trumpet, violin, viola and cello (2017)

I used the W B Yeats poem To a Child Dancing in the Wind as a sort of ‘springboard’ for my piece, just because I came across it whilst looking for a way to start and its themes really resonated with me. However, I never wanted the music to slavishly follow the poem, so if there were times when I felt the music demanded a departure from the text, I went with what I felt the music wanted.

I found the poem I used as a springboard first, then selected the instruments I was going to use with that poem in mind. I then developed a rough plan of the structure of the piece, the roles of the different instruments and the sound world I was trying to create before I started work on it. I tried to imagine the music in my head as much as possible, rather than relying on Sibelius’ playback feature, because the playback is unrealistic and is also incapable of producing some of the techniques I wanted.

Note by Lucy Hale.

In the Wind was a Drake Music commission, in partnership with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It was premiered as part of Drake Music Resonate at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London on the 17th of March 2017.

Four Folk Tunes for string quartet (2018)

There is a story to this piece. Lu wrote it and had it performed and recorded for me as a present for my 60th birthday. Her dad and I backpacked round the world before our two daughters were born. We were on a shoestring, so Christmas had to be minimal. By fluke we gave each other the same cassette: Van Morrison and the Chieftains Irish Heartbeat. It went on to become the soundtrack to the girls’ childhoods, and was often on in the car and at home. When Lu presented me with this arrangement, I was chuffed to bits.

Note by Nicola Hale.