PHILIP RICE

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Upon Westminster Bridge

SSATTB / 4.5 minutes

Dr. Andrew Megill asked me to compose something for the Westminster Kantorei. The concert was a celebration of the poetry of William Wordsworth, so I began looking for a suitable Wordsworth text (which I normally avoid, since I tend not to be attracted to metered verse). I happened upon the poem “Composed Upon Westminster Bridge” which I hesitated to look at since it contained the word “Westminster” in it. After several readings, I found that the text was full of musical potential as it discussed the play of light on buildings, and the contrast between natural and artificial structures. I later learned that it is one of only a few poems by Wordsworth that discusses the artificial world (the vast majority of his poems discuss nature).
The setting is harmonically dense, with bitonal textures and rapidly alternating chord qualities and enharmonic modulations. Although it presented a challenge to the expert skills of the Kantorei, they premiered it brilliantly.

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Poem by William Wordsworth.
Recording: Westminster Kantorei; Dr. Andrew Megill, conductor

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