Richard Fitzhugh


for symphony orchestra ( - - timp - 4 perc - pno - cel - hp - strings)

duration: 12 minutes

"Cascampana" is a fusion of the two Spanish words for "Cascade" and "Bell", and this piece is based mainly on these two ideas. The original inspiration for the piece was the idea of major triads being flung across the orchestra in imitation of a carillon of bells. This led to the formation of various modes created by the superimposition of two or three major triads. The resulting modes have between five and nine notes in them, and this piece also explores the slow transformations that occur as we move from the highly chromatic nine-note modes to the transparent, more brightly-coloured five-note modes, and vice versa.

The piece opens with a series of cascades that start chromatically and slowly dissolve into a more open five-note mode. From slowly moving string harmonics a long alto flute melody evolves, and its harmonic accompaniment forms the basis of an extended chaconne of ever-thickening harmonies. As the piece quickens, more and more woodwind motives are added to the texture until suddenly the work’s progress is halted by a diaphanous string and percussion texture punctuated by a free-floating flugel horn melody. This in turn is rudely interrupted by a vigorous melody starting deep in the basses and eventually rising to the top of the orchestra before plunging into the cascades of the opening. The coda consists of a 16-part string canon accompanied by a crescendo of deep bell sounds that eventually make way for the sound of handbells.

Born in 1976, Richard Fitzhugh read Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge before coming to the Royal College of Music to study composition with Edwin Roxburgh and Julian Anderson, and conducting with Neil Thomson. From September 2002 he will be studying with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatory, The Hague. In June 2002, he was selected to attend a one month intensive course in sound synthesis and computer-aided composition at IRCAM, Paris.

His works have been performed at the Royal Festival Hall (a London Philharmonic Orchestra commission), Dartington International Summer School (the Vienna 20th Century Ensemble) and the Warehouse, Waterloo (part of the BMIC series). Recent works include Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking (for 15 players) and an unaccompanied choral work for the London Philharmonic Choir.

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