Christopher Beardsley

Second String Quartet (The Traveller)

duration: 17 minutes

String Quartet no.2
My Second String Quartet is based on Walter de la Mare’s poem The Traveller, which depicts a journey through a visionary landscape. The twelve sections of the poem trace the approach of a man towards death and towards the moment when the dreams and fantasies of his lifetime must be abandoned. The different sections are as follows:

1. A horse-borne traveller arrives where he sees a mysterious landscape.
2. A nocturnal descent towards the strangely smooth surface.
3. The approach continues throughout the day with the landscape being seen in more detail.
4. Apprehensively, the traveller arrives at the plain.
5. In a dream the traveller sees himself as ‘Earth’s Envoy’.
6. An agonised awakening to a hostile environment.
7. A gallop from a nameless horror.
8. An access of peace.
9. A vision of other worn-out travellers.
10. The journey continues with Death near.
11. He prays, and sees an image of himself.
12. Death.

Christopher Beardsley lives near Longridge in Lancashire and was born in Derby in 1956. He began composing whilst studying music at Huddersfield University from 1989-92. Whilst there he won the Woods prize for composition and two works, River and A Rock: consider it were performed by the Firebird Ensemble. A year’s study with John Casken at Manchester University followed, during which time his work Amber was performed in the Whitworth Art Gallery.

Chris has enjoyed regular performances of his pieces including Aubade (1994), for oboe and string orchestra, which was performed on two occasions by Richard Simpson and the Goldberg Ensemble. Further collaboration with the latter saw first performances of a String Quartet (1994) and Vain Battle (1994) for string orchestra. In 1996 the Hilliard Ensemble performed Life's Pride and Cared-for Crown (1995) in London and at the Siljan Festival in Sweden and the following year John McCabe gave two performances of Stars in a Dark Night (1997). The latter was later featured on a recording by John McCabe, which appeared on ASC Classical in early 1998.

Further performances have included a setting of Laurence Binyon’s poem Little Dancers (1999) by the group Okeanos in Manchester in October 1999, and Jubilation (1999) by the Surrey Philharmonic Orchestra in the Dorking Halls in March 2000.
More recently, Open Homage (2000) for three clarinets was performed in the Liverpool Tate Gallery during the Mersey New Sounds Day in May 2000, First of several… Prelude (2000) was premiered at the Spitalfields Festival by the Apollo Saxophone Quartet in June 2000 and in November 2000 the Orlando Consort performed Kyrie (2000) at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. All three of these performances were promoted by the spnm.

In March 2002 Chris collaborated in the King House Festival in Ireland with his composition Dialogue, for clarinet and cello, and in May 2002 Broken Heart of Autumn, for soprano and orchestra, was performed at the National New Composers’ Forum in York by the Orchestra of Opera North conducted by John Carewe with Sally Johnson as soloist.

Chris Beardsley has been the winner of two prestigious awards. In 1996 Divertimento for string orchestra, won first prize at the Gregynog Festival and in 1998 Septimal for oboe, french horn, harp and cello was winner of the quartet section of the 1998 Classic CD Composing Competition.

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