Peter Nagle

What will survive of us is love

Symphony-ritual for orchestra

duration: 15 minutes

What will survive of us is love takes its title from Philip Larkin's poem An Arundel Tomb, although the poem is of only tangential relevance to the music.

It is divided into two parts: the first is harsh, angular and loud, and builds in the manner of a gathering procession to a fierce climax before rapidly evaporating. The second part, after a brief interlude, settles into an opposite mood – slow, soft and unobtrusive. The sounds here stand in relation to the first part like antimatter to matter, and rather than fulfil any purpose of their own, provide a frame for the silence which is the inevitable reaction to the first part's volume. The main motif in this movement is a three note rising scale, which in its hazy, but false recollection of tonality, attempts, to quote further from Larkin, to 'prove our almost-instinct almost true'.

The listener should not attempt to hear any progression here, but savour each sound as a separate entity in an infinite stasis.

Peter Nagle was born in Birmingham, England in 1970. He started composing in his early teens, and among early performances had a symphony performed by the Birmingham Schools Symphony Orchestra. He went on to study composition at Sheffield University with David Harold Cox. In 1995 he was shortlisted for the Yorkshire & Humberside Young Composers’ Award at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

However it was in 1996, when he was shortlisted for the same award for a second time, that he made his first notable impact, when his Nocturne (since retitled Miles After Midnight) was the subject of a heated debate initiated by Michael Finnissy, with whom he subsequently took lessons. He has also had several works shortlisted by the Society for the Promotion of New Music, which programmed his Five movements for String Quartet at the 1998 Bath Festival in a workshop with the Duke Quartet.

His more recent music has grown from an increasing frustration with and rejection of moribund avant-garde tradition. This has resulted in a more direct, pared-down style, which is evident in such works as the orchestral work What will survive of us is love (recently shortlisted by the spnm for their 2002-3 season) and the string ensemble piece Infinite Breathing, which was performed at an spnm-sponsored concert in March 2001 by the Goldberg Ensemble.

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