The Peckham Harmony

2009

currently under revision (May 2015)

clarinet in C, trumpet, trombone, viola, double bass, piano

5’

Commissioned by Endymion

f.p. Endymion, Kings Place, London, June 2009

Programme note
William Billings and Supply Belcher wrote great eighteenth-century American Harmonies – collections of hymns and sacred songs – and named them after the places they were composed or sung – Maine, New England, &c. My Harmonies of South London series (Catford, Lewisham, Nunhead and Peckham) evokes this tradition, and so is not an attempt to portray the places mentioned in the titles. The Peckham Harmony continues my abiding interest in elemental or rudimentary musical materials: the piece is made out of lines which are very restricted in pitch and rhythm; these are joined together into a rough, bracing and joyful harmony.

‘James Weeks’s The Peckham Harmony was quite unexpected: a primordial stomp, with half a dozen instruments each confined to a single repeated phrase, but cumulatively ecstatic in impact.’ The Times