Moments of Glad Grace
for Oboe and String Orchestra (2014)
(also version for Soprano Saxophone and strings)
by Ron Hannah

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Duration: about 9'30"

     Here is a very successful attempt (if I may say so) to write a sustained piece of pure lyricism, something I have not often tried before. It should become a favourite of oboists, saxophonists, and audiences alike. Rich and romantic,

    

it has even been declared suitable for the soundtrack to a sophisticated, erotic French film. That was not my intention, but I am flattered nonetheless. In fact, I am impressed by the fact that after several false starts, and many revisions, deletions and insertions, that the piece comes out as coherently as it does. Have I actually learned something of my craft? Nice to think so...

     The title comes from a line in a poem by W. B. Yeats, a poem which I have loved for many years and have even set to music as part of my choral work, Of Youth and Time, from 1997. It expresses nostalgia and regret, and at that time I was saying goodbye to a certain phase of my own life. Now things are different, I am beginning a new life, yet the poem stays with me and the phrase that makes my title resonates anew.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

     Settling into a new marriage, being leisured and happy, is obviously having its effect. This work is richly romantic, dissonant in places without being atonal, and full of striking and lush harmonic and melodic ideas. It requires performers of feeling, and I think a good amateur ensemble should be able to make it sound well. I wasn't trying to write anything virtuosic, just deeply expressive. I look forward to someone taking it on and making a recording for me.

     You can hear a computer version by clicking on the button above. It is close to what I intended but of course nothing can replace a real human performer. You may also download the score from here, and obtain score and parts from the Canadian Music Centre, or by sending me an email. I request only one thing: that I be informed of any performances so that I can keep this website up-to-date.


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