For string orchestra
In late 2020, Martin Anderson, head of Toccata Records, asked if I would contribute a string orchestra piece for his series of discs released in memory of his wife, which are designed to raise money for cancer research. His wife, Yodit, was Eritrean and he urged me not to write anything elegiac or miserable but rather something that resonated with her love of dancing, especially traditional Eritrean shoulder-shaking dancing. Rather than attempt to replicate music of a culture with which I have only passing acquaintance, I opted to mix a variety of musical styles. I was prompted to do so by the knowledge that Yodit herself enjoyed a variety of music. So, being aware of the Italian colonial heritage in Eritrea, I chose a tune from Francesco Cavalli's opera L'Eritrea of 1652 and, in a spirit of postcolonial postmodernity, turned it into a jazzy cosmopolitan dance in which I tried to evoke a typical Eritrean dance rhythm at times.
The piece begins with a theme taken from a Sinfonia in Cavalli’s opera, which then begins to undergo a jazzy transformation. The music continues as a free fantasia, rather than a set of variations, on Cavalli’s melody. After reaching a height of excitement, it breaks off and returns to a gentle, and only slightly melancholic, reminiscence of Cavalli’s Sinfonia, bringing a peaceful and calm conclusion.