Star Song I De Profundis
The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a typical northern Provençal village. Its houses cling to the hillside, nestling around the spectacular ravine which scars the mountains a few miles from the famous Gorges du Verdon. Dominating the village are two craggy pinnacles, between which is suspended a chain, 700 feet long, and carrying a great star. No one knows its true origin, but it has certainly been there since the 13th century, and probabaly much earlier. Among the many legends that have grown up around it, the most popular concerns a local knight who was captured by the Saracens whilst on a crusade to the Holy Land. He made a vow that if he were ever to return to his homeland, he would suspend his chain across the valley above Moustiers.
In 1991 I wrote La Légende de l’Étoile for organ and percussion. This extended work explored the legend in terms of a journey from darkness to light. Each of the three movements was prefaced with words from the Psalms, and made extensive use of traditional songs and gregorian chant. Star Song I is the first in a series of smaller works inspired by the legend, and developing some of the musical and aesthetic ideas from the organ and percussion work. The first movement of La Légende - De Profundis Clamavi - imagined the knight incarcerated in the depths of a great dungeon, struggling between moods of despair and hope, anger and resignation, and finally praying to his Lord for release and a chance to see his beloved homeland again. In this work I have returned to the image of imprisonment, an image that is sadly all too potent in the so-called civilised world of the late 20th century. The medieval knight’s struggle to maintain faith through the long hours of darkness and despair find innumerable echoes in our own society. It is these echoes which concern me here.
© Christopher Brown 1994