For student ensembles
Surrounding the composition of Sounding the Deep for bass voice and orchestra are a series of new pieces for student ensembles known as Shoals. These six works, commissioned by the Hull Philharmonic Society have been composed for ensembles in Hull, the East Riding and Lincolnshire for performance as part of the premiere of Sounding the Deep in March 2012.
The six ensembles that make up Shoals were drawn from across the Hull region, the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. The commissioned called for five-minute pieces that could include an optional part for electroacoustic sounds derived from sounds of the sea, sounds that are increasingly the subject of research and concern across the world. The ensembles will collaborate with students from Hull University on devising suitable electronic accompaniments to their pieces.
As animateur for Sounding the Deep Nigel Morgan devised a series of â€˜ meet the composer‘
workshops for the ensembles during June and July of 2011 and completed the six final scores in January 2012. Most of these pieces were based in some way or other on that initial workshop material.
The music is generally challenging for all ensembles, in content and technique. Three scores use experimental procedures found in Computer Assisted Composition – a percussion octet, a string dectet and a string quartet.
The other three are more freely composed to respond to the special nature of the ensembles – a two-part junior choir, a very large ensemble of cellos and a wind quintet.
Blaze for percussion ensemble imagines a large ensemble of 55 instruments as a European gamelan.
To the Dark Unseen is for a dectet of two solo muted violins, two string trios (one tuned a whole tone lower than the other) and two double basses.
Never Day and Under Night is an eight-part cello ensemble with optional double basses.
Weird Water Land is for wind quintet.
Deep Sea Diver for two-part choir and piano is a setting of a poem by Robert Francis that is said to have been written about the helmet diving exploits of William Beebe.
Into the Green Inverted Dawn is for string quartet.
You can read more about all of these pieces at the composer’s diary for Sounding the Deep.