Does the Fat Lady Have to Sing Like That?

Composer Ian Wilson looks at opera writing today through the work of Gerald Barry, Salvatore Sciarrino and Morton Feldman's Neither.

Whether in its grand or chamber forms, opera has always been a popular medium among both audiences and composers, seen by some members of both groups as being the ultimate mode of artistic expression. This article may raise eyebrows among those that think that perhaps the only possible difficulties with this genre concern conceptual ideas and their translation into the final staging. It is my contention that the main problem to have arisen in more recent times is much more fundamental and concerns above all the singers. There are also other complications, such as the fact that the libretti of operas have, in general, changed in the focus of their concept and character over the last century, and it has not always been possible to find the best way to stage these in a dramatic and plausible manner. The shift in emphasis from Verismo and melodrama towards psycho-drama by many composers has meant that staging has had to take into account the interior states of the characters above their external circumstances, something which is never easy or sometimes even feasible to bring convincingly before an audience. A lack of physical action, of actual necessary dramatic motion can be the result. Another problem – more directional and conceptual – can be that singers in many productions seem to be stranded on the stage, dragging themselves around from point to point in a clumsy choreography designed to do nothing more than give the impression of activity. These difficulties have been overcome on occasion with imagination and integrity, but that requires another essay. For now, I will focus on the biggest problem as I see it.

Since the beginning of the 17th century, the development of solo singing as an art form in a very public arena has been closely aligned to that of opera. There are undoubtedly many texts which deal with performance practice through the ages, and we are in the happy position of being able to hear for ourselves the styles employed by many of the early 20th-century’s most famous opera singers thanks to extant recordings on vinyl and their re-release on CD. This is indeed informative because it lets us hear how much singing seems to have changed even in the last 50 or 60 years. To compare Pavarotti with Caruso or Jessye Norman with Callas is perhaps only mildly useful, if not unfair, but it is my contention that the general style of opera singing today is one where, with notable exceptions, the voice is over-burdened with vibrato. This is certainly not so much of a problem when the voice is engaged in the performance of 18th- and 19th-century repertoire. Indeed, vibrato is no doubt desirable because much of that work has been designed with an inbuilt element of the spectacular and is widely accepted as being in part a ‘vehicle’ for those singers taking the leading roles. However, in much of today’s opera and chamber opera, the idea of the work being a vehicle for the singers is an irrelevant one, especially in the latter category, and the singers are rightly seen as instruments for the proper realisation of the ideas behind and in the work. And herein lies the problem, for the voices of many singers do not produce sound in the same way that instruments do. If, for example, a violin or clarinet were to produce the amount of vibrato that many voices do, composers would stop writing for them, or at least clamour for a change in performance style. But concerning singers, composers seem content to live with this distorting vibrato, accepting a phenomenon which, to my mind, has to be dealt with in a constructive way until such times as the general performance style alters. Part of the problem is that acceptable practice in one genre – grand opera of the Classical and Romantic eras – is then carried over to the genre of modern opera, and not just by singers who engage in both. And let us be honest here, there is no physiological need for singers to use as much vibrato as they do (or any, in fact, although I am hardly advocating that kind of singing) in order to project their sound – this has become established performance practice over a long period of time, but that does not mean it is necessary.

The main difficulty arises due to the language of the music. Since the early 20th-century and the final abandonment of functional tonality by many composers, it has become ever more desirable and necessary that the lines, not least the vocal lines, come across with absolute clarity so that the subtleties of vertical and linear harmonic movement are exposed with accuracy. When a vibrato-rich voice describes a line in a non-tonal work then a certain amount of uncertainty creeps in, and the composer’s painstaking work is undone as the original purity of the line is now sullied and approximated due to the waver of up to (or even more than) a semitone either side of the written note. In pre-20th-century music, this waver can often be compensated for by the underlying harmony, usually recognisable, even unconsciously, by the listener as being functional and a derivative of some triad or other. Non-tonal music, however, glories in the complexity and unpredictability of its harmonies, and 4-, 5- or 6-note chords will lose their effect and purpose if the vocal line’s role tends to upset rather than clarify the harmonic field.

There are three possible ways to compensate for this problem:

1) Engage only singers whose voices have much less, more focused vibrato. This is probably the ideal solution, but such singers are few and far between, and are more likely to be working in the field of Early Music rather than contemporary music – even fewer seem to do both.

2) Write in a language that is closely allied to that of more ‘traditional’ opera in terms of its harmonic construction. A number of composers certainly do this, and the compositional sub-genres of post-minimalism and ‘The Musical’ are replete with examples that singers can happily engage in without distorting the rather more traditional vocal line, propped up as it usually is by an obvious and overbearing accompaniment.

3) Write in such a way as to use the voice in a different manner, dispensing with the more usual expectation of aria-type singing as being the ultimate aim of the singer in any work.

(There is actually a fourth method, where the composer simply asks the singers to use less, or no vibrato, but this alone would be a purely cosmetic exercise without a change in the approach to how the voice is written for and, by extension, how the whole medium is addressed – hence my continuation below. There is a balance to be sought between seeking to tone down a singer’s natural – or rather, inherited – inclination towards vibrato and providing a different context for the singer to sing in, one which makes different demands of their vocal technique).

While the first of these solutions would be to me as a composer the preferred option, I am aware of the realities of musical life and so, with the second option close to anathema, the third must bear the focus of my exploration.

There are a number of positive aspects to this, in particular I have found that a number of composers, while working along the lines of the generally accepted purpose of opera – namely, to tell a story – have been unafraid to expand the boundaries of how those stories are told, thereby bringing the genre into the 21st century along with other musical archetypes. The three operas I have chosen as examples are all rather extreme in their approaches. One – the Sciarrino – was suggested to me by a musicologist who knew what area I was interested in exploring; another – the Feldman – is the only opera by one of the composers I most admire, radical and unflinching in the pursuit of his ethos; and the third is by Ireland’s best-known and most uncompromising composer, and therefore seemed an obvious work to begin with.

The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit – Gerald Barry
The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit[1] by the Irish composer Gerald Barry (born 1952) was commissioned by Channel 4 Television shortly after the premiere of his first opera, The Intelligence Park, and was first screened in 1995. In the composer’s own words, the piece ‘revolves around questions of ageing, vanity, illusion, fear, wit, ecstasy, regret and yearning.’ Barry’s work is well known for its uncompromising nature and this chamber opera is no exception. In two acts and lasting just over 50 minutes, it is characterised by extreme speed, both of the textual delivery and of the harmonic rate of change. Indeed, the chords succeed each other at such a pace that it is almost impossible for the ear to catch them. However, the main point here is that the singers have to articulate both the text and the pitches at such a velocity that they rarely have time to linger over individual notes, and therefore have little opportunity to exercise much vibrato. Only the character of Time, a bass voice, has regular occasion to dwell on his relatively long notes, but this kind of voice tends anyway to distort pitches less with vibrato, no doubt due to their depth. It is entirely possible that this character is allowed to spend longer on his notes precisely because he is the personification of the context we all exist in, that which goes on despite all our efforts to halt it:

‘Taunt me, interrupting fool,
Pry at the universe’s tool.
Interfere with time’s effect
And false assumptions interject.
Men have stretched me twice as thin,
Coiled and pressed me like a spring,
Teased me with art, with science pestered,
Still I move and men are bested.’
(Time to Beauty, end of Act 1) [2]

Barry’s vocal lines are characterised in some instances by very angular contours and large leaps, not unlike Webern’s approach to writing for voice, except that the effect is much more disorientating. Much of the first Act of the opera has a strange sense of inbuilt modality in both the vocal lines and the instrumental accompaniment. The latter is often completely homophonic or else linear in a singular way, with canonic writing providing the layering. The rate of harmonic change is unsettlingly quick, but the overall effect is a gravitational one, where there is a felt sense of focus on a limited number of notes. This is echoed in the vocal lines, where certain notes are audibly used as pivotal points around which the others orbit. This sense of cohesion breaks down – deliberately – as the work progresses, with increasing dissonance and disjunction becoming more and more obvious. However, by this time the ear is so used to the style of singing and accompaniment that the change is not unwelcome.

As well as writing very demanding lines for his singers, Barry also increases the stylisation on occasion. For instance, there is a hocketing effect between the characters of Time and Truth near the beginning of the first Act, where each one makes forays into the other’s lines, creating a seamless textual delivery but with changing colours. A little later, Time sings a passage with every second beat heavily stressed, no matter what syllable of a word that might coincide with, creating an unusual effect but one which by its very nature tends to concentrate the ear on the actual text since it is delivered so strangely. Near the end of the opera Truth has a series of phrases that are consistently attacked with a strong staccato and elsewhere the character of Pleasure has one incredibly melismatic passage which both delights and disturbs the ear (See Ex. 1). All these examples are indications that Barry is writing with the characters’ names firmly in mind –Pleasure’s line driven by the increasing sensuality and physicality of its own sound; Time’s line emphasising the regularity and incontrovertibility of time itself; Time and Truth’s co-operative approach to a certain passage indicative of their closeness in ‘reality’. This is not an approach consistently taken throughout the opera, but one which, on these occasions, serves to show us that the possibilities were not overlooked; indeed, the very lack of consistency in this respect makes these appearances all the more striking.

Both composer and librettist have written about the opera, with Barry commenting:

We had in mind a production of extreme spareness, cool and sharp, contradicting the speed of events in the music.[3]

Writer Meredith Oakes wrote:

Conceits and allusions [in the text] feed the energy of the music…at the same time the writing pursues a certain dreadful reasonableness, confident that it will be subverted.[4]

These comments indicate that, while the style of the opera is certainly consistent with Barry’s approach in other, non-vocal works, it was just as much a pre-ordained factor conceived as a necessary foil to certain formal elements. Not least of these is the opera’s dramatic framework, which is taken from Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth and Oakes mentions ‘Thefts; formal constraints of rhyme and metre; Handel references’5 as certain components which she was expecting the music to subvert. Therefore the hyper-energetic style of singing found in the work can be directly linked to the demands of the concept and libretto. Another, unspoken reason could be that the substance of the opera lies completely in the verbal exchanges between the characters, movement and scenery being very secondary and subsidiary elements – their very lack of essentiality is counteracted by the music which not only echoes the textual drama but creates its own through its force and speed.

Barry’s operatic output stands virtually alone in the context of modern Irish opera which, although containing a small number of quality pieces, is generally traditional and conservative in style. One of the results of Barry’s individual approach to vocal writing is that the libretto can sometimes be very difficult to hear clearly, something which can always be an inherent problem with the medium but which here becomes aggravated now and then. Still, there is rarely any doubt about the true shape of the vocal lines.

Luci mie traditrici – Salvatore Sciarrino
No such difficulty of textual clarity exists in the second chamber opera I want to mention, Luci mie traditrici (Mine deceiving sight)[6] by the Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino (born 1947). This work, like Gerald Barry’s, is a recent one, but the contrast between the two sonically could not be greater. Much of this composer’s work is concerned with the interaction between sound and silence, a very obvious preoccupation in this opera, which is one of a number the composer has written. Luci mie traditrici is based on the true story of the Italian Renaissance composer Gesualdo and his reaction to his wife’s affair with her lover. The immediately noticeable aural characteristics of the work are firstly, that the instruments of the ensemble rarely play in a conventional manner and secondly, for the most part the vocal lines are almost always quiet, short and melismatic (See Ex. 2). The combinative result of these aspects is that the text is always very clear because there is very little to obstruct its perception.

Like the vocal parts, the instruments of the ensemble produce their notes very quietly. The strings often play extremely high harmonics, producing a backdrop that is little more than a ‘presence’. There are gentle keyslaps and tonguing sounds in the wind and brass instruments organised in ostinato-like figurations, so that there is a sense of pattern and regularity to what could otherwise be a gentle chaos. Against this, the singers’ lines are characterised by a constant dialogue between the main characters, which usually appear two at a time – the Duke and his wife; the wife and her lover; the Duke and his servant. In some scenes Sciarrino uses a well-tested and very effective device to create a trio by having the servant overhear and comment privately on conversations between other pairs of characters. As in the Barry opera, the vocal parts are not differentiated by style so much as by timbre and texture due to the different voice-types employed. The phrases are usually very short and very similar both within and between the parts, any development towards greater length and intensity taking place over the long-term scale of the opera’s two acts rather than on a scene by scene basis. This makes for a strong continuity in style and focuses the ear on the text as being the main element of contrast and change.

The essential element of Sciarrino’s approach regarding a clear vocal style is the consistently low dynamic. This requirement from the singers means that they never have to force their sound, or even project it greatly, and consequently there is a lack of distortion in their voices. Even on the occasions where they are able to use vibrato, it is in such a relaxed manner that the contours of their lines and the constituent pitches are all clear. A recurrent idea is to have a crescendo on one note, from a very quiet, flat tone to a louder more coloured one – when vibrato is added towards the end of these notes, the pitch has already been clearly established in the listener’s ear, so there is no danger of distortion. Another aid to clarity is that, over small-scale ranges at least, there is a similarity between successive phrases in terms of pitch and rhythm, which reinforces the notes and contours in the listener’s ear. Many of these successive vocal phrases revolve around certain pitches that take on the function of a keynote in what Sciarrino sets up as an artificial modality (as opposed to a traditionally tonal one).

Also as in Barry’s opera, Sciarrino’s writing in Luci mie traditrici is a combination of his own usual style and the demands of the text. The libretto is an unusual one, where the characters speak consistently in short sentences and usually only one sentence at a time, so that there is a constant dialogue in operation. The manner of the text is poetic and unnatural – never a bad thing in a medium which is itself an unnatural representation of real life – and Sciarrino’s approach to setting this text both underlines its unnaturalness and gives it a context in which it can exist without becoming wearing or tedious: the constant and rapid evolution of the text is tempered by the seeming constancy of the music, which develops at a much slower pace. The two Acts are divided into eight scenes – five in the first and three in the second; this in itself shows how the scenes tend toward elongation as the work progresses, with the second Act being slightly longer than the first. A striking aspect of the work, and again, something that can be found in The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit is that the scenes are like tableaux – a setting is conceived, the characters are put in that setting, and they talk to each other. No movement is actually required by the text itself, at least until the final scene. There, the Duke bids the Duchess to open the bed curtains, where she finds her recently murdered lover and where she herself is about to die. Apart from this necessary action, the rest of the work can be seen as a series of conversations, usually of an interior or philosophical nature. The music does little to undermine that notion, in fact it could be argued that it supports and intensifies the idea so that the musical exchanges between the singers become the focus. In the first two scenes the vocal phrases overlap slightly to give continuity while still being independent. In Scene Three there is the first real ‘duetting’ between the Duchess and the Guest (soon to be her lover) – a clever use of long notes in one part gives clarity and grounding to the other, more melismatic part. The two voices here are practically alone – still at a quiet dynamic – with only the occasional whisper or gesture from the ensemble to give a little colour. On a purely musical level the scene recreates the idea of ‘duelling’, where each part, here with much subtlety, tries to outdo the other. Indeed, since this is a characteristic of many courtship and mating rituals it is far from out of place here, especially as it is done with such grace and gentleness.

In Act Two the ensemble begins introducing ‘proper’ notes, little fragments which make their way into the texture among all the other noises and susurrations. In the final scene the voices, as well as increasing in range dynamically, also whisper and use parlando in delivering their texts: from the beginning to the end of the opera there is a very patiently thought-out sense of development, one which unfolds at a slow but effective pace. The vocal writing is intimately bound up with the dramaturgy of the work, so that the journey towards the climax – which takes place at the very end of the opera – is reflected in and amplified by the journey towards greater breadth of dynamic, phrasing and technique in the voices. It is arguable whether or not the opera’s architecture is based around the vocal lines, but it is certainly well defined by that aspect.

Neither – Morton Feldman
The last opera I want to look at is Neither by the American composer Morton Feldman (1926–1987). This is a little older than the other two – written in 1977 – and shares some common characteristics while expressing some completely original ones. The text was written by Samuel Beckett after meeting the composer in 1976 and is typical of his late work – concise, beautiful and austere. This rarefied piece of prose consists of just 87 words and begins:

to and fro in shadow from inner to outer shadow
from impenetrable self to impenetrable unself
by way of neither

Feldman spoke of his feeling that there was something peculiar about the text and how he finally understood that:

…every line is really the same thought said in another way. And yet the continuity acts as if something else is happening. Nothing else is happening. What you’re doing is getting deeper and deeper into the thought.[9]

The nature and length of the text are the strongest defining characteristics of the opera. Beckett’s words demand a treatment that considers what we think of as drama from a different angle, from a different plane altogether. Feldman’s opera is around one hour in length and his setting of the text is rather ‘evolutionary’ – fragments of the text are presented in isolation, one small phrase at a time, from beginning to end. For much of her part, the soprano sings wordlessly, as part of the instrumental texture, often taking up ideas that have been presented elsewhere. For instance, at figure 69 the soprano wordlessly sings a motif first introduced in the cor anglais, bass clarinet and trombones three bars before figure 46, and there are a number of other instances of similar events. Feldman’s assertion that every phrase of the text is a different way of expressing the same idea means that the fact that the text is so elongated in the opera should not matter substantively.

With only one singer involved – a high soprano – this opera is already a different creature from the other two I have looked at. The soloist is not designated a name, she is not a ‘character’ in this drama but more of a conduit regarding the exposition of the underlying concept. Nor does she present a text which is polemic by nature but instead presents it in such a way as to make the actual delivery the basis for any polemic – the ultimately frustrated search for comprehensibility echoing the libretto’s contention that the search for self-knowledge is itself doomed to failure. As Marion Saxer explains:

The attempts at self-visualisation appear again in the text of Neither as a series of metaphors for forms of movement, which only result in realising that self is unobtainable – as the ‘unspeakable home’.[10]

Feldman also pointed out that Beckett was speaking of the ‘impossibility of examining self and unself. One goes to and fro, to and fro.’11 This obviously has huge ramifications for how the opera is presented on stage. This is no Erwartung, which, despite being a monodrama, is full of incident, and has an inherently large scope for staging and direction. Rather, this work is a metaphysical piece, attempting to portray on stage through the presence of one singer and her actions, both vocal and physical, the impossibility of self-knowledge. A tall order, perhaps, and one whose success or otherwise I will not attempt to discuss here. The point of interest for me is the way in which Feldman approaches the vocal writing. Apart from a couple of very early pieces, Feldman tended to use the voice instrumentally, without text, either as part of an ensemble (Rothko Chapel, 1971;Chorus and orchestra I and II, 1971 and 1972; Voice and instruments I and II, 1972 and 1976; Elemental Procedures, 1976) or alone (Three Voices, 1982). It is safe to say that a performance practice evolved around Feldman’s music over a period of thirty years or so, where those taking part in presenting his works were aware of how they should be approached, both through the indications in the scores and the dissemination of Feldman’s own preferences through certain associated performers, as well as through an increasing number of recordings. This performance practice revolved around the search for a ‘purity’ of sound, uncluttered by human intervention (i.e. unnatural ways of producing sound such as vibrato in voices, stringed and wind instruments, audible attacks on notes, Romantic or emotional ‘interpretations’ of what is in the scores).

In Neither, Feldman keeps the voice consistently high – above the stave for a large part of the opera (See Ex. 3). This is obviously demanding and requires more than just a good performer. Added to this are requirements that she should sing quietly for most of the work, use virtually no vibrato and sing not a complete text from beginning to end but fragments of a text separated by instrumental passages. To offset these demands, the singer is actually silent for more of the work than she sings in. This naturally puts great responsibility on the orchestral writing to carry much of the psychological weight of the work, and the purely instrumental passages are there to reflect and comment on the text itself. How Feldman intended the orchestra to mirror the futility of self-knowledge we cannot say for sure, but it seems clear that his use of repetition and variation regarding the small chromatic cells at the core of the work implies that no matter how hard something is studied and dissected, there is no point at which it can be said ‘knowledge is complete, examination is exhausted’.

The nature of the vocal lines is virtually the opposite of Gerald Barry’s strongly disjunct style in The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit – Feldman writes in a very consistent stepwise motion, linear outworkings and developments of the little chromatic cells that are also given vertical expression in the orchestral writing. This approach gives a smoothness to the vocal line which, in a surprising way, helps to create a dense and foundational character in something which is, on the surface, rather ethereal. Unlike Feldman’s chamber works of his last seventeen years, which tend toward crystalline clarity, his orchestral writing is more often quite dense, exploring a gamut of contrasting timbres and textures and usually expressing itself in floating blocks of vertical sound, sonic correspondents to the late paintings of Mark Rothko, an artist Feldman knew personally. Despite the lush scoring, the orchestra generally plays at a low dynamic, which allows the soprano’s line to be clearly heard. However, since her presentation of the text is in such a fragmented form and in such a high register, it is the pitch content of the line which comes across most clearly – the tessitura often obscuring the pronunciation – and we must assume that these phrases are meant to carry as much dramatic weight as the fragments of text they support, more, in fact, as they are the most clearly audible aspect of what the soprano delivers.

Unlike the Sciarrino and Barry operas, Neither has no obvious sense of development and progress in terms of musical material. There is much in the way of variety and a sense of looking at the same object from many different angles but ultimately no sense of conclusion, despite the opera finishing with the last words of the text. The underlying premise is therefore reinforced.

All three operas examined in this text share a single-mindedness of purpose that is impressive, and no doubt necessary in each context. The stylistic and conceptual approaches set out at the beginning of each work are relentlessly and unswervingly pursued to the end, necessarily defining at the same time the most appropriate nature of the vocal writing. In terms of vocal production these works are grounded to some extent in operatic tradition, being found at the end of an evolutionary line which can be traced back a considerable distance. The ways in which the singers produce their sounds are often inhibited or altered by the demands of the various musico-dramatic concepts, but they are basically developments from what would have been heard in the past, now dampened, amplified or distilled. Examination of these techniques shows some of the possibilities for ensuring that operatic vocal lines (particularly in regard to pitch content) are produced with clarity, unhampered by poor or unsuitable vocal practice: using a combination of greater dynamic control, more specific registral definition and a more precisely targeted employment of melisma should give composers the opportunity to present musical contours and texts in an operatic environment in a more transparent manner which, after all, will only help in achieving the kind of communication opera is essentially about.

Feldman’s work Neither, alone among the three works I have examined, is actually antithetical to the basic tenets of opera. Lacking the usual character designation, mode of textual delivery and narrative sense, the work is as far from the usual operatic experience as might possibly be imagined while still being presented on a stage. This is not to say that it does not work, far from it, but only to point out that different expectations are provoked and challenged in relation to the purpose of the singer, the text and the staging. Though employing a traditional vocal approach, in its method of textual delivery Neither points also to Music Theatre, a medium that, although sharing some characteristics with modern opera, has its own much shorter tradition regarding vocal practice. Figures such as the performer and occasional composer Cathy Berberian, not to mention various experimental ensembles active in the 1960s and the pioneering work of John Cage in music sound concepts, introduced the idea that any vocal sound can be utilised in the expression of an idea or concept. This has been taken up in more recent times by many composers both within and outside the (relatively broad) confines of the term Music Theatre, not least by the Greek composer Georges Aperghis (born 1945) in concert works such as Recitations of 1978. The young Irish composer Jennifer Walshe (born 1974) is also active in exploring extended vocal techniques, and her work (such as As mo cheann of 2000 [12]) is typical of the approach where the voice part is heavily notated as to the quantity of tone to breath in a note, use of phonetic sounds and whispering, attacks on plosives, singing while breathing in, whistling, and a wide range of other techniques. In the context of such an approach a singularly dramatic experience can be created, and it remains to be seen how this attitude towards vocal production would translate to a more operatic environment, especially in terms of the scale and setting of the work.

Notwithstanding this mention of more liberal attitudes in Music Theatre, it is interesting to note from the three examples I have outlined that a challenging vanguard of operatic work can be achieved with relatively common vocal resources. These pieces give important clues as to how composers can overcome some of the problems facing them in having their dramatic work more clearly presented and understood. More widespread acknowledgement among composers that there are indeed inherent problems with contemporary opera may lead to the conclusion that a change is required in how this medium is usually handled, but at the beginning of a new millennium perhaps it is about time for that.

1. Published by Oxford University Press.
2. From CD liner notes to The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, Largo 5135. Libretto by Meredith Oakes.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Published by Ricordi, Milan.
7. Published by Universal Edition Ltd.
8. From CD liner notes to Neither, Col Legno WWE
9. Morton Feldman, ‘Darmstadt Lecture’, in Morton Feldman – Essays, W. Zimmerman, Cologne, 1985, p. 185. Quotes in CD liner notes as above.
10. CD liner notes as above
11. Howard Skempton, ‘Beckett as Lebrettist’, in Music and Musicians, No 9, May 1977, pp. 5-6. Quotes in CD liner notes as above.
12. The score of this piece for voice and violin is available from the Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin (visit

Published on 1 May 2002

Ian Wilson is a composer

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