Saturday, January 28, 2006

New Cantata by Peter Maxwell Davies

From The Guardian:

Poet and music master pen birthday cantata for Queen

Charlotte Higgins - Friday January 27, 2006

The poet laureate, Andrew Motion, and the master of the Queen's music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, have written a work together to mark the monarch's 80th birthday.
It will be the first time Sir Peter and Motion have worked together. Sir Peter has set a poem called The Golden Rule, written for the occasion by Motion, and published exclusively here. The 15-minute cantata will be followed by further collaborations, they hope. Ideas are in the pipeline for a joint piece to mark Prince Charles's 60th birthday in 2008.
The poem tackles, at the suggestion of Sir Peter, said Motion, "changes in the natural world, and people accelerating those changes, sometimes positively, sometimes not. And through those changes and in and among them, the Queen remains the same".

The piece will be performed at a service at St George's Chapel, Windsor, on April 23, and at Windsor festival in September.

Sir Peter described Motion as "very sympathetic and professional - he knows exactly what he's about". Motion said of Sir Peter: "I know and like his music and think he's doing a terrific job."
Today they jointly discuss their official roles for the first time, at the Association of British Orchestras conference in Gateshead.
Motion said that since his appointment in 1999 he had wanted to work with the master of the Queen's music, but Sir Peter's late predecessor, Malcolm Williamson, was afflicted with long-term health and alcohol problems.
"With the best will in the world, he wasn't available, in a profound sense," said Motion. But after Sir Peter was appointed in 2004, the two quickly started talking. Motion said that working with a composer in some ways eased the challenge of writing for an official royal occasion. Working with music, he said, "helps socialise it - and hooks in another audience".
Sir Peter, who as an anti-establishment figure surprised many when he accepted the position, said the royal family were "very good. I was surprised that they are so helpful and keen. They have been falling over backwards to help. I have had in-depth conversations with the Queen and Prince Charles about music.
"The Queen in particular has shown great understanding and perception. The idea she's a philistine is complete rubbish".

It is not the first time that a master of the Queen's music has worked with a poet laureate. For the Queen's silver jubilee in 1977, Malcolm Williamson set a hymn written for the occasion by John Betjeman.


The Golden Rule

The waves unfurl and change the shape of coasts,
The shrinking woods fall backwards through their leaves,
The night-horizons twist in chains of light:
The golden rule, your constancy, survives.

The language bursts its bounds and breaks new ground,
The fledgling words lay down a treasure-trove,
The speed of heart-to-heart accelerates:
The golden rule, your constancy, survives.

The sun unwinds its heat through threadbare sky
The lakes and rivers map their stony graves,
The stars still shine although their names grow faint:
The golden rule, your constancy, survives.

The black-and-white of certainty dissolves,
The single mind insists on several lives,
The ways to measure truth elaborate:
The golden rule, your constancy, survives.

The Golden Rule was commissioned by the Friends of St George's Chapel and the Windsor Festival


From The Daily Telegraph:

Cantata created for the constant Queen

By Nigel Reynolds - 28/01/2006

The Queen's two most creative courtiers have combined their skills to honour her 80th birthday. Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Master of the Queen's Music, have prepared a 15-minute cantata that will be performed for the first time at Windsor in April. Sir Peter, the unexpected choice to become Composer Royal last year, has set The Golden Rule, a new poem by Motion, to music.
The four-verse poem makes curious repetitive references - presumably unintentional - to one of Gordon Brown's twin economic allies, Constance and Prudence. In this case and in due deference to his monarch, Motion repeatedly refers to the Queen's "constancy" as the world changes.

The theme was suggested by Sir Peter. Motion explained yesterday that the poem tackled "the changes in the natural world and people accelerating those changes, sometimes positively, sometimes not, and through those changes, and in and among them, the Queen remains the same".
The cantata is the first collaboration by the pair and they are discussing ideas for a similar project to mark the Prince of Wales's 60th birthday in 2008.
But it is not a unique collaboration. Malcolm Williamson, the previous Master of the Queen's Music set a hymn written by John Betjeman, then Poet Laureate, to music for the Queen's silver jubilee.
Sir Peter, who has called himself an old-fashioned socialist and has previously been labelled a scourge of the Establishment, was an unexpected figure to succeed Williamson.
Disclosing one of his early discussions with the Queen, Sir Peter said: "The Queen said to me categorically: 'Philip and I are interested in music and we've had this terrible press. We are not Philistines'."

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