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Talk:Via Crucis (Ellerby)

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Percussion Requirements:

These five players are involved in the effects mentioned above to a lesser degree – usually to support thinner textures. There is no separate timpani part – all five performers play various instruments, sometimes shared, from the following list:

Glockenspiel, vibraphone, claves, tam-tam, tubular bells, 2 suspended cymbals (high and low placed together sometimes), bass drum, timpani (5 if possible), xylophone, side drum, 4 temple blocks, 2 bongos (with sticks), 2 wood blocks, clashed cymbals, 2nd xylophone or marimba or vibraphone played with hard beaters, Two sets of 6 same sized wine bottles filled with ever increasing amounts of water to vary the pitch – the actual pitch is not important just a noticeable difference – these will need to be suspended somehow and hit with metal beaters.

Performance Notes:

The following notes are included here to give clarification and detail to the notation used in the score.

1: Instrumentation:

All 3 flutes double piccolos. 1st alto saxophone doubles soprano saxophone. The piano (must be a grand) needs to be ‘open’ so that the internal strings can be hit – this will probably require a special set up for the music stand.

2: Special Requirements:

There are several effects notated in the score requiring the use of wineglasses, bottles, sticks, beaters, metal cans etc. These have been notated in all available parts at each specific time but do not necessarily need to be played by everyone. The wineglasses need not be of any specific pitch but should have a little water placed in them to enable the performer’s finger to be wetted prior to execution of the rubbed rim effect. The bottles are to be of as many varied sizes as possible and blown rather like pan-pipes. The 'sticks' section is to be made up of whatever is available, although ‘bright’ sounds are preferred. It is appreciated that it is easier for some instrumentalists to put their down instruments and perform effects than it will be for others. Should this prove difficult (instrument stands may help if available) such players can enter at a later moment than others, or if too problematic not contribute. The vocal effects do not cause the same logistical problem.

N.B. for the recording by the RNCM Wind Orchestra, the wineglasses and bottles were recorded later and ‘dropped’ in. In the parts set there is a CD which has all the relevant sounds so they could be 'performed' by a CD operator suitably amplified. The parts set also includes a reference part concerning these effects which could also be used by any additional performaers that may be available in some circumstances. For reference purposes the CD tracks are as follows:

3: Register Note:

In the case of the string bass, should a five-string version not be available then any notes out of register should be taken up an octave. This also applies to the bass clarinet should the lower notes not be available on the model used by the specific performer.

N.B. this is of particular relevance in the USA

4: Tempo:

The work spends a great deal of time in the same tempo – this is to enable a sense of steady, relentless procession. However it is permissible to add moments of rubato, a little accelerando and a return to a tempo to drive forward the drama. There should not be gaps between the sections, as a continuous flow of proceedings is desirable.

5: Dynamic Indication:

The notated dynamics refer to the audible level requested, thus if a line is not emerging clearly, then extra weight will need to be given. The wine glasses/bottles effects have been given a marking, albeit this is potentially irrelevant, as in order to be audible maximum effort will normally need to be applied.

6: Vocal/Special Instrument Effects (clarification by bar number):

  • Bar 8: entries can be in succession, building up the textures – no words should be recognisable – the effect is rather like a mumbling crowd, so the vocal contribution should be somewhat introvert.
  • Bar 14: The free instrumental notation is to produce a violent 'sigh' – the same when this returns later.
  • Bar 89: The notated rhythm is by no means to be adhered to; it is merely a guideline of intent. Players should not enter together but in small contingents over say a 4 bar period, then 2 bars of full intensity, then 3 bars of losing intensity of rhythm into absolute notated rhythm commencing at bar 98.

7: Solo 'Cello:

This is obviously a key part but is not written in the vein of a concerto, rather obligato. A lyrical style is required, as the soloist is acting as a commentator on the procession and a transition between sections. The 'cello part needs to be executed with confidence. Careful attention is needed in the placement on the stage of this player, and I sanction the soloist being amplified for additional prominence and projection.

8: Bar 92 Solos:

The piccolo, oboe and soprano saxophone solos should be rather ethnic in style and essentially 'strained' in tone, hence the high register writing. Great purity of timbre is not the paramount consideration in this section.

9: Postlude Bar 143:

This is in effect a literal setting of The Lord’s Prayer without an audible text, therefore the lines should have a ‘sung’ quality to them. Bar 178/179 saxophones etc., bar 180/181 flutes etc., and bar 182/183 brass represent an ‘amen’, as do the final later bars of the work.