Jonathan Pitkin

HAS IT FLOWN AWAY? for mixed voices (2005)

Duration: 6 mins
Click here to see the SCORE.

Has it flown away? brings together two strikingly similar poems (by John Keats and Fujiwara Shunzei), written over 600 years apart, both of which describe the vivid imprint left on the narrator’s memory by the sound of a bird singing. I have always been drawn to texts which are already to some extent about music, so I found it particularly interesting to think about the poets’ suggestion that a song can linger on, and somehow go on being heard, even after it has stopped or faded out of earshot.
The piece sets the first four lines of the Keats, then the whole of the Shunzei, before returning to the final lines of the Keats. This results in quite a clear slow-fast-slow structure; however all three sections are shot through with rhythmic and harmonic echoes of one another.
Has it flown away? was commissioned by the St Louis Chamber Chorus in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

Audio extract:

(Performers: BBC Singers / Nicholas Cleobury)