1933 - 2020
The organ concerto Diaphony is one of this composer's most substantial works. Written in 1977 in response to a commission from the BBC it was first performed at Winchester Cathedral by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Norman De Mar, with soloist Gillian Weir, on
31st August 1978. The London premiere was given at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in September of that year. In this work, complex and expressive musical thoughts are expressed with clarity and directness - hallmarks of Justin Connolly's work. Sensitivity in the setting of text
is most especially demonstrated in the Poems of Wallace Stevens I (1967) for soprano and small ensemble, Poems of Wallace Stevens II (1970) for soprano, clarinet and piano, and in the motet Spelt from Sybil's Leaves (1989), with words by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The challenging brilliance
of a series of pieces entitled Tesserae, for one or two instrument (flute, cello, bass and trumpet) and written between 1970 and 1981, display this composer's distinctive and cogent musical approach. Each work refers obliquely to a well-known English hymn-tune by Hubert Parry, the common background for all of them. The hymn-tune itself is rarely recognisable, being split into small fragments and re-assembled in such a way as to conceal its identity, which none the less governs the composition throughout. The composer notes that "Tesserae are the constituent parts of a mosaic, or the counters used by the ancients in games, having no significance in themselves but acquiring it by the use to which they are put."
In 2001, a portrait album of Connolly’s music was released on the Metier label. The recording featured four important later works: Sonatina No 2: Ennead (2000); Nocturnal (1991); Tesserae F (1999) and Scardanelli Dreams (1997-8) performed by Sue Anderson (mezzo), Corrado Canonici (double bass), Nicolas Hodges (piano), Nancy Ruffer (flutes), Andrew Sparling (bass clarinet) and Julian Warburton (percussion).