• 2.2+ca.2+asx.1/4211/3perc/2hp.pf.cel/str(
  • 10 min

Programme Note

CHORUSES TO APOLLO, my first orchestral piece, was begun in 1979 and completed in 1980. The first performance was given in 1981 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Lionel Friend as part of a BBC College Concert in the Royal College of Music, London.

The title refers to an imaginary ceremony: a solo piper, represented by the cor anglais seated apart from the orchestra, summons different groups to worship Apollo, god of music, (although the music itself is not intended to be specifically 'Apollonian'). I imagined the piper to be standing on a hillside in ancient Greece, playing to announce a ceremony of worship. The crowds approach, become increasingly ecstatic and then depart, leaving the lone player in the distance.

The opening cor anglais melody provides all the material for the piece and is succeeded by a continuously unfolding musical argument in which the orchestra is used in many choruses (representing the various congregations of worshippers). After the final climactic moment there is a slow, sustained coda out of which the cor anglais is heard beginning its melody once more; but this is not completed, leaving the listener with the feeling that the piece could begin again. Just as my imaginary ceremony would have taken place every year, so the end of the work is not a true close and portrays the idea of a recurring ritual.

© Robert Saxton