CANTATA ELIENSIS, ACT II
Composer Toby Young writes:
The subject of the second Act of the Cantata Eliensis is "Troubles & Triumph", and it is the story of Saint Etheldreda and her vision for the new cathedral at Ely..
When approaching this music, I wanted to capture both the beauty of her vision and temperament, and the brutality of her opposition. To do this, I tried to invent a harmonic and melodic language using elements of medieval plainsong and modes, Middle Eastern music and contemporary jazz, to create a delicate, other-worldly, and distinct soundscape.
The soprano saxophone immediately stood out as being perfect for this musical world, beautiful, ethereal, yet also lamenting and expressive. I coupled this often with Indian Harmonium, which compliments the more melancholy passages perfectly. In contrast, the addition of percussion (in particular the harsh sound of tom-toms) and piano helped to create moments of Stravinsky-inspired brutality, showing just how tough Etheldreda's fight was going to have to be.