• John McCabe
  • Visions (1983)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Harrogate Festival

  • SSAATTBB
  • 9 min
  • John McCabe
  • James Clarence Mangan

Programme Note

Visions was commissioned by the 1984 Harrogate International Festival, and was first performed there by the BBC Northern Singers.

It was during a flight back to England from Dublin, having just picked up a book of Irish poetry, that I was first attracted to the work of James Clarence Mangan, the Dublin-born poet who died in 1849 at the age of 46 after a tragic struggle against a catalogue of misfortunes. His work immediately impressed me with its characteristically Irish rhetorical power and vivid imagery, and at its best it seems to me to have a consistently visionary quality that is superbly controlled yet forcefully spontaneous.

Visions, dedicated to Clive Wilson, is a conflation of two different poems by Mangan, And then no more and Shapes and signs. The contrast between the two is considerable, but it seemed to me that in their different ways they dealt with contrasting aspects of a dream-like world, and are strongly evocative of Mangan's highly personal and emotional milieu.
© John McCabe

Duration 9 minutes

Visions completes the Mangan Triptych - the other two choruses are Motet and Siberia.