Seven Poems of Stillness-pgs7-13-secureSeven Poems of Stillness for violoncello solo with poems by R. S. Thomas was composed in response to a request from Dr. Rhian Davies, Artistic Director of the Gŵyl Gregynog Festival, to whom the work is dedicated. The work was written to be premièred at Manafon Church, where poet R. S. Thomas was Rector, on the occasion of the centennial of his birth. In this continuous cycle, (c. 16 minutes without narrator, c. 24 with optional narrator) each of the seven poems presents an aspect of the poet’s relationship to God. The movement titles are evocative and are taken from the following poems:

I. “the air / a staircase for silence” (Kneeling)
II. “the great brush has not rested” (The View from the Window)
III. “like some huge moth out of the darkness” (The Empty Church)
IV. “as the interior of a cathedral” (The Moorland)
V. “Bright Field / lit bush” (The Bright Field)
VI. “the possibility of your presence” (Cones)
VII. “nights that are so still” (The Other)

The central slow movement contains echoes of the Welsh hymn Llef (IV). The faster movements, II and V, suggest stillness at the center of a spinning motion ‘renewed daily’ (II), ‘the stars themselves gyring down … the cone’s point toward towards which we soar’ (V). The darkest movement is III, paralleling the poem The Empty Church. Movements I and VI are poems of spiritual listening. Reflecting the sentiment of R. S. Thomas’ poem The Other, the final movement (VII) evokes ‘wave on wave on the long shore’. © Hilary Tann

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