top of page
Above the Clouds
Buried Light

Duration: 10 minutes
Opus: 51
Date: 2009



Buried Light is an Adagio & Rondo which takes as its starting point Vernon Watkins’ poem of the same name and is written in memory of my cousin, Peter.

I have long been an admirer of Watkins’ work and have written several works either based on or setting his poetry and his choice of subject matter – the landscape of Wales, the elements, loss, longing and rebirth all have a very personal resonance for me.

Also, the idea of light has an important place in my work and I am fascinated by the various moods created by it – the vibrant colours of the fields in France, diffused light shining through the trees on the roads in Somerset, the sun shining through the bands of rain in the Welsh valleys, the warm shades of dawn and the mystical feeling of twilight. My large orchestral work, Towards the Light, depicting a storm as an allegory of the souls’ journey from the trials of this world to the triumph of the next, was written to celebrate the Golden Wedding of Peter’s parents and I felt it was fitting that Buried Light should be my tribute to someone I saw as my big brother and who is sorely missed.

The musical material for this work is derived from an initial note row which has been repeated until it could be divided into equal segments of five notes each and then each segment subjected to row rotation to provide another five, interlinked, variants. This process yields sixty five-note cells which are all inter-related and which provide the basic material from which to build the fabric of the work.

Although the building blocks are derived by use of serial technique, the work itself is not serial and has a harmonic structure that is independent of the rotated cells.

I have chosen two, non –consecutive, stanzas of Buried Light to head the two movements of the work.

What are the light and wind to me?
The lamp I love is gone to ground.
There all the thunder of the sea
Becomes by contrast idle sound.

Come, breath, instruct this angry wind
To listen here where men have prayed,
That the bold landscape of the mind
Fly nobler from its wrist of shade.

The first movement is an elegy for the lost light which has now “gone to ground” whilst the much faster, virtuosic, Rondo celebrates the soul “Flying from its wrist of shade.” 


Solo Violin; String Orchestra

Commissioned by

Jonathan Mann & the Cardiff Sinfonietta

First performance

Gwenllian Haf Richard; Cardiff Sinfonietta, conducted by Jonathan Mann
Y Tabernacl, Cardiff - December 19th, 2009

Score & Audio
bottom of page