Blackford / Gadd / Bbc National Orchestra Of Wales - La Sagrada Familia Symphony | FAMS COALITION


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Antoni Gaudi's monumental temple La Sagrada Familia is a universe within a building. It's mass of stone and metal is bathed in coloured light diffused from dazzling stained glass windows. The colossal structure is supported by great pillars inspired by the shapes of tree trunks that re-inforce the impression of a spiritual forest. Around the main access points to the basilica are three great facades; Nativity, Passion and Glory. Each is a visual world unto itself, stylistically apart yet united by Gaudi's grandiose vision. These three facades are the inspiration of my three-movement La Sagrada Familia Symphony. The visual journey, from the representational to the abstract, is something I also tried to mirror in the music. When I visited La Sagrada Familia in October 2019 there was still scaffolding to support the work on the remaining towers. Whereas my symphony is inspired by that monumental building, I hope that my musical structure can stand alone as an homage to Gaudi in it's own right. The two parts of the cantata begin similarly, presenting first the children of Seth - then in the second part, the children of Noah. Realizing that the aftermath of the destruction of the Tower of Babel could be anti-climactic, I left part of the Noah story unfinished at the end of Part I, and concluded it as an Epilogue. I wanted God's promise to be the note on which the work should end, a message of hope that the divinity would protect His creation throughout the seasons: "While earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall never cease." These beautiful words are taken up by the choir and soloists contrapuntally and lead directly to the hymn: Praise My Soul The King Of Heaven, whose melody was woven into the closing section of Part One. Following Britten's inspiration in Noye's Fludde and St Nicholas, I invite the audience to join in the hymn, celebrating creation and the world that has been entrusted to us. Babel uses the chorus extensively to narrate both stories, as well as to evoke the terror of the flood and the exuberance of the construction of the tower. In addition to set pieces, such as the Nimrod baritone aria, and the soprano aria, "Do not fear the largeness of the showers," the three soloists often sing together in close harmony as the other-worldly voice of God. The instrumental forces are relatively modest, with the piano duet supported by the sustaining power of the organ, backed by two percussionists. This sound world is redolent of those Britten masterpieces for amateur choirs, ensembles and audiences, which have inspired many composers since, and to which I too am gratefully indebted.

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