By a happy coincidence I share a birthday with Igor Stravinsky, so it was natural that I should want to pay some sort of tribute to Stravinsky when he died in 1971.  The opportunity came with a commission from that year’s Three Choirs Festival to write a piece for a concert to be given in the grounds of Tewkesbury Abbey by the Purcell Consort of Voices and the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble.  While in no way wanting to imitate Stravinsky's style, I nevertheless enjoyed adopting some of his harmonic and textural mannerisms, in a piece which is ceremonial for the most part, but with a more contemplative central section.


The text for "Lauds" is a paraphrase of Psalm 150 by the 17th century poetess Mary, Countess of Pembroke, whose versifications of many of the psalms were immensely popular during her lifetime.  The piece opens with a short introduction for the brass quintet which provides much of the later thematic material.  The first allegro section makes use of an accompaniment figure which is unashamedly indebted to Stravinsky, and this is followed by an extended central passage in which individual voices are pitted against the different brass instruments.  The final allegro sections become increasingly extrovert and celebratory, though a reference to the "Alleluias" in Stravinsky's "Symphony of Psalms" adds a degree of solemnity to the proceedings.


© Christopher Brown 2011