Richard Blackford: Christmas Dawn [Printed Music]
In November 2020 I was asked by Em Marshall-Luck, Founder-Director of the English Music Festival to write a piece for her Christmas Garland concert at short notice. Having promoted a successful two-day festival in St Mary’s Church, Horsham, Em’s belief in the vital importance of offering live music-making during the COVID pandemic was stronger than ever. I decided to write a short, atmospheric piano piece Christmas Dawn, in support of her, the pianist Duncan Honeybourne, the festival and those who were willing to travel to Horsham to hear the music played live.
Christmas Dawn is a simple, hymn-like tune presented first softly, with a simple chordal accompaniment. As it gains momentum, with more expansive piano figuration the tune develops and extends. A contrasting middle section with staccato quavers heralds the return of the theme in a full, joyful iteration, before closing softly again.
I sent the score to my publisher and they suggested that the pianist Simon Callaghan record Christmas Dawn with an accompanying video, as a celebratory lockdown project at Wyastone Recording Studio that might cheer people up, given the uncertainties of Christmas this year. I hope the music and the video will give pleasure at a time when Christmas cheer is much needed. Richard Blackford
Blackford's brand new piano miniature, performed by Simon Callaghan, ably accompanied by Jason the dog
Earlier this week, composer Richard Blackford won an Ivors Composer Award for his choral work, Pietà, an ambitious reimagining of the Stabat Mater. But today sees the release of a very different work, a piano miniature called Christmas Dawn, as a single on Nimbus Records.
Below is the video accompanying the release of Christmas Dawn, featuring pianist Simon Callaghan. The composer writes of the work: 'Christmas Dawn is a simple, hymn-like tune presented first softly, with a simple chordal accompaniment. As it gains momentum, with more expansive piano figuration the tune develops and extends. A contrasting middle section with staccato quavers heralds the return of the theme in a full, joyful iteration, before closing softly again.'