In a month when I’ve been out of action, it’s gratifying to have a flute composition premiered at London College of Music by Asley Westmacott yesterday – and today one of my songs goes live via Soundcloud performed by Ruth Carlyle & David Barton – Blueberry Enchantment
Pan and Syrinx programme note
The legend of Pan and Syrinx is an object lesson for any modern philanderer, since Pan’s attempts to win the beautiful but chaste Syrinx got him absolutely nowhere! In her attempts to evade him, Syrinx begged the river god to save her. She was changed into a bunch of sighing reeds, with Pan ultimately creating his pan-pipes to remind him of the nymph he had failed to win. How to turn this into a piece of music, though? The music begins with the idea of a dialogue between Pan (the low phrases) and Syrinx (the higher-pitched answers). It becomes harder to distinguish between the two as the chase intensifies, with Syrinx’s desperation reflected in the highest, fastest passage in the middle of the piece. Some calm is restored as she is turned into reeds, signalled by four slow ascending minims. Pan attempts to embrace her – now a bunch of reeds – reprising the beginning of the piece. The slower coda represents the pan-pipes that he makes as a substitute for Syrinx herself.