John Habron

Palomar Looks at the Sky

for piano and violin

duration: 6 minutes


Palomar Looks at the Sky
"When it is a beautiful starry night Mr Palomar says: "I must go and look at the stars." That is exactly what he says: "I must," because he hates waste and believes it is wrong to waste that great quantity of stars that is put at our disposal."*

Italo Calvino’s Mr Palomar is an eccentric and extremely thoughtful man, whose character intrigued me and caught my affection. The reader never hears him speak in the "mind’s ear" because he is not given any speech in the book. However we have constant access to his curious and searching mind, his idiosyncratic view of the world.

One chapter of Calvino’s book deals with Mr Palomar’s attempt at stargazing and this piece is simply an evocation of a clear night sky, perhaps as seen by him, in his own quirky and excitable way.

*p.39 of Mr Palomar by Italo Calvino (Minerva, 1994)

Yorkshire-born John Habron began ‘doing music’ at the age of 7 when he took up percussion lessons. He began composing soon afterwards when he wrote a death march for a primary school play about the plague…

…John studied for a BA at the University of Durham where he also conducted the University Symphony Orchestra, carried out ethnomusicological fieldwork in the south of Spain and co-founded a department based contemporary music festival. He went on to study with Michael Finnissy at the University of Southampton and there gained a distinction in his MA.

John has recently completed a commission from the BBC to write a work for the Belcea String Quartet to be performed at Lake District Summer Music and broadcast on Radio 3.

He is musical director and composition tutor for COMA Yorkshire and freelances as a conductor and percussionist around West Yorkshire.

John’s music has been performed at festivals in Brighton, Huddersfield, York and Edinburgh. He has worked closely with groups such as the New Music Players, IXION, Capricorn, Gemini, and the Cornelius Cardew Ensemble.

John is a keen scholar whose interests range from aesthetics and philosophy to cultural theory and semiotics. Next year he will present a paper on musical notation at the University of Durham. He plans to start a PhD in 2003.

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