'The Blackbird' Sonata for Violin and Continuo, Conor Gricmanis, 2018
This sonata was inspired greatly by my upbringing in the wild borderlands of Shropshire; the dramatic changes in weather, patchwork open land, and a nostalgically ‘old-fashioned’ way of living. This sonata is also influenced by my love for 17th century music, notably sonatas of the stylus fantasticus, by composers such as Castello, Uccellini, and Schmelzer, with their bohemian improvisatory nature, and melodic lines flowing upon a tactus guided by rhetorical devices. I also enjoyed using my imagery related synaesthesia to help me compose this sonata; passages were ignited from stories told to me during my childhood by my father, Dāvids Gricmanis, and also my own journeys of strife, terror, love and romanticism. This piece is dedicated to my dear friend Katherine Theresa Lennon, who was also raised in Shropshire with me, and shares the same romantic, ancient, borderland view of life as myself, which stimulated the colour pallet for this sonata.
'Crimson Skies' for Voice and Guitar/Lute/Theorbo, Conor Gricmanis, 2018
As a Shropshire Lad myself, I have always had a special place in my heart for A.E.Housman's set of poems 'A Shropshire Lad', and I feel I can relate deeply to this set of poems and many more of Housman's works. I came across poem XVI 'How Clear, How Lovely Bright', and adored the ambiguity of Housman's writing pitted with very subtle hints, perhaps touching on love and even sexuality. I decided to set these beautiful words to a recitative style accompaniment using only Jazz/Guitar chords to allow both the singer and the guitarist freedom in their musicality, complimenting my love for stylus fantasticus, and after altering and replacing a few of Housman's complex vocabulary to keep a song-like flow, I decided to interjected the poem twice with my interpretation of 'old-style' Shropshire field work songs. This song, for me, is the reminiscing of spending each glorious summer helping out on the family farm, working long sweltering days, keeping a good humour, and looking forward to celebrating a long day's work with a huge family meal, playing games, singing songs, and of course, relaxing as the sun sets.
'Let's Build a Treehouse!', for Solo Alto Recorder, Conor Gricmanis, 2018
This light-hearted piece is yet another musical interpretation of childhood memories from Shropshire in the form of a musical sketch. Much like my mother, Alison, I enjoy the hazelnut tones of wooden recorders very much, as they always make me feel like I really am hearing something from a charmingly beautiful bygone era. I felt the instrument was a perfect choice to represent the memory I have of my siblings Hannah, Rowan, and I in our very early youth building our first treehouse out on the farm, not too far away from the river Onny. The idea of using a solo recorder represents three voices/characters (my siblings and I) with very different personalities working together as one, but at times talking over one-another. Throughout the piece you hear eager enthusiasm, strife, and absolute chaos.