The map of days outworn will be heard in concert for the first time this Saturday, performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Andrew Gourlay. Details here.
The piece was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 as part of the celebrations surrounding the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Focussing on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, this project has led to the creation of five radio plays as well as five pieces of orchestral music. The radio plays will be broadcast over the weekend, and my collaboration with Francesca Martinez airs tonight at 10.45pm on BBC Radio 3 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b077xkxt). There will be a future broadcast of the concert performance of the five new pieces of music (the other composers are Daniel Kidane, Aaron Parker, Chiu-yu Chou, and Tom Coult).
It’s been a real pleasure working with the BBC Philharmonic under the expert direction of Andrew Gourlay and I’m very much looking forward to hearing the piece played in the Bridgewater Hall.
My programme note for The map of days outworn:
The map of days outworn explores a web of interrelated concepts that feature prominently in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, particularly ruin, decay, beauty, and unrequited love.
The following fragments from Shakespeare’s poetry were particularly influential on the character and timbre of sounds, and on the structure and behaviour of the music:
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay,
Ruin have taught me thus to ruminate –
That time will come and take my love away 
That in black ink my love may still shine bright 
Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end 
Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn,
When beauty lived and died as flowers do now (…)
And him as for a map doth Nature store’ 
The ornament of beauty is suspect,
A crow that flies in heaven’s sweetest air 
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun 
What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend? [53}
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made 
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken
While shadows like thee do mock my sight? 
The title of the piece is a quotation from sonnet 68, and encapsulates the collection of ideas with which I worked. In the map of days outworn, there is a sense of erosion through time, a tarnishing or blemishing of colours, a fracturing of lines.