'Gentle Dove' is in three movements and follows the general structure of slow - fast - slow. During the writing process, I let the music itself dictate the brief. Subconsciously, the subject matter quickly took on an 'In Memoriam' style. At the start of any project I always imagine that my music should stir the listener emotionally whether through brash rhythmic statements or simple use of thematic material.
The first movement is based on the traditional Welsh melody 'Y Deryn Pur' (The Gentle Dove). There are six main versions of the tune embedded within the movement, each being stretched a certain amount. Indeed, there is one version which lasts the whole six minutes of the movement. Due to the elongation of material, this movement has an effervescent and spiritual feel similar to that of ambient music. Material develops slowly until the theme, in its original 20bar form, is heard in the Double Basses in the last 20bars of the movement. The trumpet part comments upon and questions certain aspects of the theme in a quasi-improvisational style, whilst the strings employ sustained passages of 'free bowing'.
The second movement is full of life, energy and rhythmic propulsion. There are moments of joyfulness, declamation and spirited fun each of which initiated by the trumpet. Juxtaposing such feelings between two movements of the opposite nature seemed appropriate to me. The structure of this movement is very 'blocky' oftentimes resulting in abrupt changes of texture.
The third movement was written first and forms the true emotional apex of the work as a whole. Simplicity prevails in terms of style, thematic material, and structure. This simplicity (or pureness) is the main emotional impact of the movement, subtitled 'In Memoriam'. Both the strings and trumpet are 'choral' or 'cantabile' in nature, resembling that of the sacred choral music tradition.
'Gentle Dove' is dedicated to many persons intrinsically linked with the musical landscape of Wales, who are sadly no longer with us. Commissioned by Arts Council of Wales, most of the work was written over Christmas and New Year.
with support from:
Live performance at Bangor Music Festival by North Wales Camerata, under the baton of Patrick Rimes, with Gwyn Owen on trumpet.