Simon Mawhinney

Qalban Tahiran

for soprano and mixed ensemble (afl, cl, perc, pf, vn, va, vc)

duration: 6 minutes

Qalban Tahiran is a short song for soprano and a mixed ensemble of winds, piano, percussion and strings. The Arabic text is replete with images of purity and tranquillity and deals with the transformation of the individual. The text itself is superbly constructed, with a wealth of structural devices. The music aims to preserve and intensify this effect. The voice intones the text in a supple melodic style and the strings and winds reflect and transform the music she sings; the piano and percussion instruments (vibraphone, tubular bells, gongs, finger cymbals) encase the text in a kaleidoscope of harmonics and resonance. Qalban Tahiran is the first completed movement in an ongoing cycle of pieces for female voice and ensemble.

Simon Mawhinney is a composer and pianist. He was born in 1976 and was educated at the universities of Oxford, York and Queen's, Belfast.

His compositions have been performed throughout Europe by a wide range of performers and ensembles and have won a number of awards and prizes, including most recently the Royal Philharmonic Composition Award. His scores are available from the Contemporary Music Centre in Dublin, while spnm have provided many opportunities for which the composer is very grateful.

While his music is wide ranging - from music for children to electronic music to pieces for symphony orchestra - it is always preoccupied with the same issues: the simultaneous integration and expansion of a musical language which seeks to maintain balance between different tendencies - towards both consonance and microtonality, repetition and non-repetition, simplicity and great complexity. These concerns are reflected in some ongoing projects: a piece for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (to be played at the 2002 Huddersfield Festival and broadcast on Radio 3); a piece for piano and electronics; and a commission for the 2003 Cheltenham Festival.

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