For my teacher Stephen Montague’s 70th birthday celebrations, the composers at Trinity Laban were all asked to write a ‘piece on a postcard’ to celebrate the occasion. Glacier, for Stephen Montague is my contribution to this project.
Given that Stephen’s role as my tutor is largely to help me explore more experimental ways of thinking about music, I didn’t just want to write a piece but wanted instead to do some small-scale exploration. The postcard I used (pictured below) was one I found in a secondhand bookshop in Greenwich, Halcyon Books and is of a painting of the Glacier of Rosenlaui in Switzerland by John Brett. I started thinking about creaking ice and how I might be able to create a similar effect on the piano. The work uses mostly the strings inside the piano and largely consists of scraping a card up the strings towards the hammers, and striking the strings with card, the hand or the fingers. Keys are depressed silently in order to create pitches to reverberate after the action directly on the strings.
The performance here is by Caitlin Rowley, from a private performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Friday 3 May 2013.