‘unredeemed’ self-)portrait (in the form of an eagle
for solo flute
Programme note

This piece is one of a set of four that solo works, which can also be performed simultaneously as duos, trios and a quartet. It is based on an interpretation by Michael Sadgrove of the famous tapestry by Graham Sutherland that hangs in Coventry Cathedral. This tapestry, at its centre, features the Biblical 'four living creatures' around the figure of Christ, creatures that serve as metaphors for aspects of the human condition. Sadgrove describes them as having 'unredeemed' and 'redeemed' states; this work explores the 'unredeemed' qualities emanating from one of the creatures, an eagle. Sadgrove's words encapsulate everything I was seeking to capture in this piece:

“Unredeemed, untamed, the four creatures symbolise deep disorder and destructiveness, it seems to me. … Seen in this way, it is a demonic bestiary. … But it is a truthful mirror of human life. … It is the place where the masks are off and true faces are revealed. …it is a hopeless place indeed. …

The eagle, looking for prey, is my oppressive side, ready to exploit those who are weaker than I am, impatient with weakness, vulnerability and compassion.”

This manifests itself in three distinct behaviours: 'searching' - long durations sustained and articulated in various ways; 'watching' - quiet, essentially still but restive, with occasional calls; and 'attacking' - rapid, violent gestures, brief but brutal.

The piece is dedicated to Alexandra Surman.


Score
Audio