Goddess for string orchestra was commissioned by the Ida Carroll Trust as an ‘in memoriam’ for the Cheshire artist Dorothy Bradford who died in July 2008 aged 90. It received its first performance in June 2009 from Manchester Camerata, directed by Richard Howarth, in St Mary’s Church, Nantwich, Cheshire.
In looking for a particular painting from the artist’s considerable output on which to base my new work I was drawn to one entitled Goddess (1980), unusual in the artist’s output for its subject matter. In a largely blue canvas it depicts a seemingly lonely reclining female figure – sensuous, beguiling, and preoccupied. I have written a slow movement which tries to capture this haunting image in sound.
Written for a string orchestra of 15 players, it features an important role for a solo viola (the Goddess of the painting). In turn, the music tries to reflect the different moods I felt from the canvass – sinister, reflective, haunting, captivating, and peaceful. The work begins and ends on the pitch of A (a double bass harmonic) and is diverse in its contrast of chromatic and diatonic harmonies. There is a strong lyrical presence throughout, particularly towards the end of the piece.