Christopher Best

composer ~ educator ~ performer ~ writer


 

How Great, How Fall'n (orchestral version 2010)

 


Torre Abbey
photo by Christopher Best

"....The audience felt more and more part of the music which surrounded it and the beautiful evocation of such a site was all the more effective...."
(Albert G. Storace, The Times of Malta)

I was inspired to write this work after visiting Torre Abbey, an English monastery dating from 1196, which is now little more than a shell.

On the fractured arch of the chancel I found an eighteenth century stone plaque, a poem by the Reverend Joseph Reeve that pays homage to the abbey ruins. Over time, this plaque has itself become a ruin, so badly weathered down one side that only parts of the verse remain legible. The elements had somehow bridged the six hundred year divide between the observer and the observed, leaving me acutely aware that our own endeavours will all too soon be eroded to dust.

Though hallowed m....
The friendly Abbey still....
Here meek religion’s ancient temple....
How great, how fall’n the (mournful?)....
Of sacrilege, behold....
Nor blush to drop the (tributary?)....
Here stood the …. here, on....
The dome extended there the....
The shatter’d …. with....
The yawning arch....
Sad striking remnants....
To pity now might move the....
Lo, sunk to rest, the wearied ….. (sleep?)
While o’er his urn the gloomy ....…weeps
Here silent pause, here draw the ….. sigh
Here musing learn to live here learn to die
................................................ Rev ....
................................................ A.D. 1790


The heavily weathered stone plaque at Torre Abbey
photo by Christopher Best


Strings and percussion players perform in the wings of the auditorium
photo courtesy of Light Composing


Conductor Brian Schembri and stage musicians during the performance
photo courtesy of Brian Schembri

How Great, How Fall'n was orchestrated and adapted from the original 2004 score as an offering to the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra. The premiere took place at the Teatru Manuel, Valletta, Malta on 10th December 2010 under the baton of Brian Schembri.

The original solo voice parts are taken by the woodwind, the wordless choir given to the upper strings placed around the audience, the organ part is shared between piano and piano accordion. Brass and percussion parts remain largely unchanged.