Yr Afon Yn Yr Awyr (The River In The Sky)
(For Chamber Orchestra)
1.(picc.). 1.(c.a.). 1. (bcl.) 1. 184.108.40.206.0. 1 perc. hp. strings (min. 220.127.116.11.1.).
Duration: c. 12 - 15'
Please Note: This work has to be performed as a suite of three movements, with the end of each segueing into the next.
Yr Afon Yn Yr Awyr is a suite of three interrelated movements inspired by the nickname given to the aqueduct based in Pontcysyllte, North Wales. In essence, I wanted to explore how I could musically create a sense of floating through stasis and motion, much like the water in the aqueduct flowing above the River Dee. As such, each movement flows directly into the next, exploring a particular aspect of the imagery of a River in The Sky. What connects the individual movements is the melodic line that subtly weaves it way through different contexts and moods representing how the river in flows from Pontcysyllte through North Wales and beyond.
The first movement is a brisk, dance-like, idea where a folk inspired oboe line is juxtaposed against more rhythmical counterpoint in the strings. This rhythmical process then runs out of control before segueing into the nocturnal second movement. During this middle movement, I focus on creating stasis in the instrumental textures, combining the lyrical capabilities of the woodwind section with the silverly timbres of the harp. Finally, the third movement returns to the energetic pulsations found in the opening, with rippling figurations in the strings giving a water-like effect to the textures. These ideas culminate at the end, where melodic fragments from each movement appear in counterpoint over expressive harmonies.
Yr Afon Yn Yr Awyr was first performed by NEW Sinfonia (conducted by Robert Guy) as part of their ‘Nature and Us’ Great Sounds exhibition, November 2022. Many thanks to the Vaughan Williams Foundation who generously commissioned this work.