Elegy for an Unsuspecting Phalarope (2009) for String Orchestra. Duration circa 6 minutes. This piece is probably my most beautiful self-contained, short work. The piece came out of the 'Birds of Prey' String Quartet Cycle commisssioned by James King. One of the pieces in the cycle was intended to refer to the Common Buzzard, but it just happened that I a friend of mine, Sue Threakall, told me about a news story in The Times where a couple of bird watchers or "twitchers": (Paul Freestone & Tim Twiggs) waited 2 hours hidden in undergrowth to catch a glimpse of a rare bird; an elusive grey Phalarope. Just as the bird became visible, a huge Common Buzzard swooped down and snatched the defenceless bird. Hence, the piece is as much about the fate of the poor Phalarope as it is about the Buzzard described as part of a much larger and more complicated body of pieces relating to birds of prey.
The innocence of this bird reminds me of the fate of unsuspecting young haemophiliac patients and others with bleeding disorders who received contaminated blood products or even whole blood. This piece is dedicated to those who lost their lives to contaminated blood.
I have written this piece entirely by hand, in ink, (something I'm doing more and more) as a protest to the overuse of computers and what appears to be an increasing unavailability of decent manuscript! However, the score and parts have subsequently been typeset, due to an excessive number of amendments and errors.
Please note that this piece has now been renamed "Sanguis Venenatus".
Link to article in Todmorden News regarding the Elegy.