One last musical composition for me to chase down this season is the Legend of the Bird which I’ve written for the Anglican cathedral choir in Victoria, British Columbia. This carol for a cappella choir and children’s choir will be sung at the Nine Lessons and Carols service on Sunday Dec. 23, in the cathedral at 4:30 pm.
When I was asked to write the piece, I recalled a very small sculpture of a bird high on top of one of the stone pillars in the south aisle of the cathedral. I have been fascinated by this little stone robin for about 23 years, ever since she was pointed out to me, and I had to strain to look up and find this obscure work of art. I had always wondered why the artisan had left this testament to a bird, so as usual I made up my own story (preferring to create my own version of the truth, rather than be a truly diligent researcher.) The carol is a bit enigmatic, or perhaps it can be understood on different levels, but in general, it spins a legend that if the real bird’s creator would visit and find a city without any hunger, want or pain, he will return with joy, and the stone bird will come back to life.
If you ask me to describe the music, I suppose the opening is reminiscent of another carol called “The Legend” by Tchaikovsky. In the middle in builds up with music language out of John Tavener’s harmonic book. The ending is more like Herbert Howells. If these composers strike a familiar chord, you get a fair impression of what’s in store.
Thanks to Michael Gormley and the choir for commissioning and premiering this piece. I am looking forward to hearing it and returning to beautiful Victoria.
Check out the the church’s website here: