A couple of years ago I was approached by Colchester Choral Society, a good amateur choir who have commissioned several pieces from me over the years, to commission a new unaccompanied work that would focus on the concept of world peace – a subject dear to the hearts of many, and sadly perhaps in our minds even more now than for many years.
As always with choral music, finding suitable texts liberates and starts the compositional process, and for this piece, the commissioners requested a work that would encourage peace and understanding while not focussing on any particular creed or belief. So in my research for texts and ideas I looked at a number of peace symbols or images, and while not all of these suggested appropriate poetry, the symbols of the olive branch, the dove, and the rainbow in particular came into the foreground. Eventually, I found texts from a range of sources, including the English metaphysical and pastoral traditions, and the Taoist, Jewish and Christian traditions, and the shape of Images of Peace was born.
With five movements, the work lasts nearly 14 minutes, and although it is written so that the movements can be performed separately, I attempted a quasi-symphonic structure for the complete work: the calm first and last movements (‘Sweet Peace’ and ‘Bread of Peace’) partly share the same material, and between these are three contrasting movements. ‘Rainbow of Peace’ is a lively scherzo, and this is followed by an expressive slow central movement (‘Peace in the world’), and then an elegant allegretto (‘Doves of Peace’).
‘Images of Peace’, for unaccompanied mixed choir was commissioned by Colchester Choral Society, using funds from a legacy by Richard Daniel, and the first public performance is on Saturday 17th November, 7.30pm, St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.
Colchester Choral Society, under their director Ian Ray, have also made a recording of this and other works of the British tradition. This will be available at the concert at a price of £10, and also by post (charge for postage): please follow this link for details. By permission of the Society, you may also listen to the recording of Images of Peace on Soundcloud here.
The score of ‘Images of Peace’ is published by Oxford University Press. Details here
Here are excerpts from the five movements (at lower quality sound than the actual CD):
1. Sweet Peace
2. Rainbow of Peace
3. Peace in the World
4. Doves of Peace
5. Bread of Peace