Sun Songs for high or low voice and orchestra by Malcolm Forsyth Dur: 22 min
Text: Doris Lessing
Written for Judith Forst and the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra 1985.
Notes by the composer:
1. Conchita, Conchita!
2. The Sun’s Out!
3. Jupiter’s Daughter
The origins of this work, written in 1985, go back about ten years earlier, when the composer first encountered the writing of Doris Lessing. The texts are all drawn from one work of hers, Briefing for a Descent into Hell, a mixture of science fiction fantasy approaching the stature of subconscious mythology, all in the guise of a medical case history.
Without attempting to plumb the depths of Lessing’s strange novel, it is yet possible to hear the wonderful music of several poems sharing the “sun-theme” which are interspersed through her book; all dreamlike interludes of rich sound and image evoking here, an exquisite nostalgia, and there, an atavistic sensuousness.
The song cycle attempts to capture intuitively some of this imagery in musical metaphor at times dazzlingly brilliant, as in the first song; at others lurid, brutal, and finally awestruck and spiritual, in the third.
The work was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation especially for the Canadian mezzo-soprano, Judith Forst. The world premiere took place on December 6, 1987 at the 10th Anniversary Gala of the Canadian Music Centre’s B.C. Regional Office in the Hotel Vancouver Pacific Ballroom, with the Vancouver Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Mario Bernardi, Judith Forst was the soloist.