2004 ***ENDLESSLY ROCKING for choir & large wind band See note 5

ENDLESSLY ROCKING (2004) was written for and commissioned by New Life on Stage, an annual festival for amateur brass and wind bands in the Netherlands, in conjunction with the publishers Mansarda Sintra, Hilversum. It is based on a poem by Walt Whitman that begins with the line ‘Out of the cradle endlessly rocking’ (1881), referring to a revelatory experience by the seaside.

The work was intended – and ultimately written – for the level of a grade-5 wind band. Although its first performers may not be selected from that category of performing ability, I believe that, in time, Endlessly Rocking should find its way into their repertoire as soon as a good recording is available and familiarity with the music can readily be obtained from it. This depends, of course, on the skills of good and adventurous conductors, unafraid to tackle a more unusual language or idiom, and confident that, in the final analysis, musicians can be seduced by the quality and power of the music itself.

As the orchestra is pitched at grade 5, I assumed the choir to be in the same league. Initially, the piece might benefit from a debut performance by a choir which can do justice to its potential; but ultimately the music’s rhythms and harmonies should sit comfortably within their range and musical appreciation. They follow the rhythms of the poem more or less naturally, almost without exception. As the lyrics are very much in free verse, the lines are flexible and vary constantly, unrestricted by the rigidity of strict rhyme. This was one of the qualities of Whitman’s poetry that appealed to me as it would guarantee great flexibility in the design of the music.

Because the orchestra is a full-sized wind band, a matching volume of singers is required to create a fair balance. However, I have avoided the use of tutti in the orchestra as much as possible for reasons of both transparency and instrumental coloring.

A performance is scheduled for November 2005.