Additional Information

Commissioned by Philip Sheppard for the Old Isleworth Festival.  Premiered 24 June 1997 at the Old Isleworth Festival, All Saint’s Church, Old Isleworth, UK: Old Isleworth Festival Quartet (Alison Kelly, Miffy Hirsch, vlns; Nick Pendlebury, vla; Philip Sheppard, cello)


Programme note

In Schubert’s song (a setting of Mayrhofer), a boatman sings to the stars for guidance on his journey.  In my piece I have continued with the theme of the interrelation of earth and the heavens, drawing on alleged* correlations between the ancient Egyptian necropolis at Giza, and the plotted contemporary star charts.  The Nile, for instance, was thought to mirror the Milky Way (known in ancient texts as the ‘Winding Waterway’), and the three Giza pyramids aligned with the Nile in exactly the same way that the three stars of Orion’s belt aligned with the Milky Way.  At the time of important astral events, terrestrial re-enactments of these dramatic events would take place at Giza.  The chosen participant (dressed as the god Horus) would be ceremonially ferried across the Nile (thus implying a much longer and more significant journey) to the Sphinx (which itself symbolised an astral ‘gateway’).  Once at the Sphinx the Horus-voyager would journey down a tunnel aligned with the pyramids (leading in the heavenly mirror-image to the ancient sky-region known as the Duat, where he was able to be reunited with his father, Osiris) to his final resting place.

Virtually all the music derives from the Schubert original, although it is only quoted in full just before the close.


* Keepers of Genesis (R Bauval and G Hancock)


after Schubert's 'Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren' D.360
Score file