Neal Farwell - composer - conductor


for piccolo / alto flute and electronics (2003/2007)
commissioned by Nancy Ruffer

I found George Mackay Brown’s subtle poem Shroud some years ago, and wanted to make a musical response; yet the poem is too complete in itself for a song setting. When Nancy and I discussed making a piece, it seemed finally to be the right occasion. The poem - both intimate and dispassionate, personal and communal - weaves threads of loss, experience and, ultimately, hope.

The first performance of Shroud was given by Nancy Ruffer (flute) and Neal Farwell (electronics) on 29 October 2003 at the Victoria Rooms, Bristol. The electronic part was reworked
and the score revised in 2007. The electronic part was rebuilt in 2015.

The recording is a studio demo made with flautist Jennifer Raven.

Performances (selection)
with Cem Onerturk (Hezarfen Ensemble), flutes:
Bilkent New Music Days, Ankara, Turkey, 19/05/2015, sponsored by British Council.
with Karin de Fleyt, flutes, and David Ibbett, electronics:
Victoria Rooms, Bristol, UK, 13/11/2015.
Logos Foundation, Ghent, Belgium, 19/11/2015.

Technical information: Each of the flutes has an embouchure microphone that feeds to real-time signal processing, created in the Max programming language. The electronic sound is produced over an arc of five loudspeakers. The electronic sounds are of two main kinds: timbral alterations of the live flute sound that are played over a central speaker, so that there is fusion between acoustic and electronic components, anchored to the physical flute; and antiphonal fields reproduced over the wider loudspeakers, whose energy feeds or is driven by the flute.