Lifelines

for orchestra

Anthony Gilbert

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Composer Anthony Gilbert
Composer

Year of Composition

Instrumentation

Forces

Fl, Fl/Picc, Ob, Ob/CA, Bb.Cl, A.Cl, 2Bsn, 2Hn, Strings (10.8.6.6.4)

Duration

ca. 10'

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Categories (all composers)
Catalogue ID ce-ag3l1

Notes

During 2020, the year of fear of COVID-19, I found myself sketching out two medium-length ‘tone-poems’ for orchestra, aimed in their different ways at celebrating being alive. I approached them with a great sense of freedom, allowing my intuition simply to be guided subconsciously by my amassed technical knowledge. So this piece, despite using ‘serial’ linear techniques, is built around an 11-note row so formed as to create an oblique sense of modality, a condition towards which my music has been gently returning for years.

The lines are mainly shaped by the strings, but derive from the long clarinet solo at the beginning, developing in a dialogue between the strings and segments of woodwind. The phrase-rhythms therefore reflect speech rather than conventional musical patterns; the overall structure is that of a ‘Roundelay’ poem, involving five closely-related ’roundelay’ rhythmic blocks, each appearing twice, their second, linked appearances being as part of a ’round-dance’ – a noisy game in the wake of the main climax.

Between the climax and the ’round-dance’ is a quiet ‘daydream’ passage, worked out upon very still string harmonies; after the ‘dance’, that passage reappears in a more tormented form, headed ‘night troubles’, leading to a ‘wake-up’ call at the end.

Lifelines, just under ten minutes in duration, is dedicated in deepest gratitude to the distinguished conductor and former colleague Clark Rundell, whose support during my years at the RNCM was a great life-line to my creative activity. Its length, of 366 bars, coincidentally matches the number of days in the year of its composition.

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