In 2011 the Royal School of Church Music ran a competition to write a hymn-tune in honour of the 150th anniversary of Hymns Ancient and Modern. The tune I submitted was called Warnham, in honour of the village where I live. For some unfathomable reason the RSCM did not see fit to award me the prize; but in the long run this proved a godsend. It seemed a shame to throw away a good tune, so I used it as the basis for this Rhapsody for string orchestra: a splendid phoenix (if I may say so) rising from the ashes of a mere hymn-tune.
After a troubled beginning, the tune emerges and is played twice in different keys, with a reassuring pizzicato walking bass. The music then weaves flights of fancy around this thematic material, now swelling with almost patriotic joy, now becoming more introspective. The more disturbing dissonances from the beginning of the work try to resurface from time to time, but in the end it is the splendid tune that has the last word.
Orchestral parts are available as a download from tutti.co.uk
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