Jonathan Pitkin

AS KINGFISHERS CATCH FIRE for mixed voices and organ (2018)

Duration: 6 mins
Click here to see the SCORE.

This piece, a commission for the choir of St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, draws its text from Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem of the same name. In the lines set to music here, Hopkins vividly describes a succession of striking sights and sounds of nature, and celebrates them as manifestations of the Divine.
The sonorities, rhythms and melodic shapes of Hopkins's poetry already give it a strong 'built-in' musical character, so this setting attempts to allow these qualities sufficient time and space to come through with particular clarity, as well as to augment their effect by combining and reiterating them in polyphonic textures held together by continuous, slowly-developing patterns in the organ. Later, after the music falls sharply back from a unison climax, it becomes almost hypnotically simple and repetitive as Hopkins's poem reaches its conclusion: 'Christ plays in ten thousand places…through the features of men's faces'.