Commissioned by Andreas Klatt for the Farnham Youth Choir

  • children's chorus
  • children's chorus
  • 12 min

Programme Note

This enchanting 12-minute cycle is typical of the subtle and delicate way Max approaches writing for children : straightforward, tender, affectionate, yet with just a hint of the complexity found in challenging ‘adult’ works like the cycle Westerlings. George Mackay Brown’s poetry with its haiku-like short stanzas and pointilliste allusive imagery leaves you constantly intrigued : who is the boy ‘lost on the hill till sundown’, and why is time ‘a bird with white wings?’ Is this perhaps the poet himself playing a bit of holiday truant? ‘Lux Perpetua’ is a cheerful little scherzo in a syncopated 5/8 rhythm.

‘A Calendar of Kings’, with its almost spiritual accompanying vocalise, evokes the wise men themselves, ‘woken by the dawn lark’ and riding, it seems, not through dunes but hills in a northern evocation (‘at solstice the chalice of the sun spilled over’) of the Epiphany. ‘Good, good’ chant the young voices, like an impish mantra – yet the import of ‘Anne Bevan, sculptor’ is serious : shepherd, housewife, weaver, sculptor (perhaps even composer), makers and doers all, remind us that God, too, is a maker often pleased with his handiwork. The last poem, a gentle monody over lulling soft chords, could be the poet’s own epitaph : ‘Carve the runes / Then be content with silence.’

Roderic Dunnett