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Plainsong for strings : string orchestra

by Jennifer Fowler (1992)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

From the CD Plainsong for strings: revised version 2000

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Plainsong for strings: revised version 2000


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Plainsong for strings: revised version 2000 / Jennifer Fowler.

Library shelf no. CD 1256 [Available for loan]

Display all products featuring this work (2 more)  

Work Overview

Plainsong for Strings is an adaption of an earlier piece for chamber choir, based on the plainsong Veni Creator Spiritus. It explores a process of built-in resonance.

Canons have always been an echoing device, but in this piece the canonic voices proceed at fluctuating speeds, so that the time relationship between voices is constantly shifting. The simple and recognisable line of plainsong in the meantime becomes more complex. Throughout, a single line is used, but decorated and smudged outwards in such a way that the resulting sound can be directionalised and shaped.

At a time when contemporary music was dividing into the two camps of the very simple and very complex, in writing this piece I was looking for ways to be able to journey from simple to complex and back again without losing stylistic integrity.

Work Details

Year: 1992

Instrumentation: String orchestra (

Duration: 11 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Professional or advanced students.

Commission note: Commissioned by Goldberg Ensemble.. Revised version commissioned by the Goldberg Ensemble.

First performance: by Odaline de la Martinez, Auckland Women's String Orchestra — 4 Dec 92. Auckland Concert Chamber Hall, Auckland, NZ

Revised in 2000.

Performances of this work

12 Oct 2017: at European Contemporary Composers' Orchestra (University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna). Featuring Wiener Concert-Verein.

30 Apr 2011: at Arcko Symphonic Project: Pulling Strings II (Fitzroy Town Hall). Featuring Timothy Phillips, Arcko Symphonic Ensemble.

20 Apr 08: Beijing International Congress on Women in Music, Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing, China. Featuring Youqing Yang.

7 Apr 01: Clockworkers Hall, Leeds University, Leeds, UK. Featuring Goldberg Ensemble, Malcolm Layfield.

31 Mar 01: Wolverhampton, UK. Featuring Goldberg Ensemble.

25 Mar 01: Royal Northern College of Music, Oxford Rd, Manchester. Featuring Goldberg Ensemble, Malcolm Layfield.

5 Feb 95: School in Croyden, Surrey, UK. Featuring Surrey Sinfonietta.

4 Dec 92: Auckland Concert Chamber Hall, Auckland, NZ. Featuring Odaline de la Martinez, Auckland Women's String Orchestra.

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