Time line of the creation of "The Summer Child"
1988 First encounter with the legend of Sabrina,
goddess of the River Severn, at a children’s entertainment during the Bath Festival.
Purchased a copy of The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth
to find out more.
April 1989: First expedition to observe and photograph the
Summer 1991: family boating holiday on the River Severn.
1995 Obtained a copy of Robert Graves’ “The White Goddess”.
Undertook extensive research into the origins and meaning of
the legend of Sabrina including motivic connections with Celtic, Greek and
April 1999: Completed the poem Afon Hafren; 43 verses in rhyming
quatrains charting the river’s course from source to sea.
February 2000: Completed first draft of operatic libretto
with detailed research notes.
2003: Awarded a grant of £7,500 by South West Arts to
compose the opera.
2003: Several expeditions by car to visit and photograph the River
Severn from source to sea.
2003: Completed a vocal score with piano reduction of the
opera in a version based on the system of Sea Chords.
(Sea Chords were originally created for the
sea interludes of my opera “Seven Stars” (1989) the homophonic link is entirely coincidental.)
2005: Obtained a senior lectureship at Oxford Brookes
University; Obliged to abandon work on the opera for the time being through
pressure of time.
2010: Discovered the
principal of “All-Interval-Fractal-Sets”.
2011 Began work on sketches for a complete redraft of the
opera based on All-Interval-Fractal-Sets. The process of drafting a complete
structure for a new version of this 3-act opera according to fractal principles
took 10 years.
2011 Began writing songs for voice and piano in order to
develop greater stylistic versatility in writing for the solo voice. Works
Include “Six Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay” (2011 - for mezzo-soprano and
piano; written for Lore Lixenberg), “Dark Seas” (2014 - 5 poems by Philip
Larkin for coloratura soprano, clarinet and piano; written for Sarah Leonard),
“Three Shakespeare Sonnets” (2016) and “Mountains of the Mind” (2017 - settings
of 12 poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins for high baritone and piano).
14 May 2013: first performance of “The Ballade of Gogmagog”
at Bristol Music Club with the composer in the role of Corineus accompanied by a
small orchestra conducted by John Pitts. This is the only part of the version
of “The Summer Child” based on the theory of Sea-Chords that was ever fully
orchestrated. The entire version based on Sea Chords was eventually abandoned
2019: Devised the principle of Zooming-into-Infinity using
All-Interval-Fractal-Sets to create River-like structures in sound.
July 2020: Posted a video on YouTube combing a reading of
the poem “Afon Hafren”, a sequence of photographs from the 2003 River Severn
archive and a musical accompaniment based on the principle of
Zooming-into-Infinity created using Sibelius computer software.
December 2021: Resolved to complete the new version of “The
Summer Child” based on the principles of All-Interval-Fractal-Sets, prompted by
a call-for-scores by Fresh Squeezed Opera of New York; Completed a new version
of the Ballad of Gogmagog scored for small chamber ensemble in time
Fresh-Squeezed Opera’s December deadline.
January 2022; Began work on the vocal score of the complete
opera with piano reduction in short score.
July 2022; Completed the vocal score with piano reduction in
time for another deadline from Fresh Squeezed Opera.
27 September 2022: Completed a revised version of the vocal
score incorporating more detailed dynamics, articulation and tempi. Began work
on the full orchestral score. For creative reasons, decided to begin with the 3rd
and final Act.
January 12 2023: Completed the orchestration of Act 3.