A note from the composer...
At the heart of Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire is The Morning Room, formerly the Chapel of St Mary, where a glass cabinet displays the Berkeley family antiphonary, a large and beautifully illuminated book of liturgical texts and chants dating back to about 1457, and the inspiration for the title of this work.
Berkeley Castle is the oldest building in the country still lived in by the same family who built it over 900 years ago. As a modern visitor, I was inspired by the historical timeline which traces the castle’s history from its Norman origins to present day existence as a family home, tourist attraction and fairy tale wedding venue,imagining the many generations of visitors and their role at the castle. Influences in the music include the 18th or 19th century harness bells, displayed in the 14th century Buttery (used on horse drawn vehicles so that visitors could be heardin darkness or fog), a painting in the Picture Gallery ‘Old Berkeley Hounds find in Bricket Wood’, circa 1820 and The Great Hall, the magnificent centrepiece of the Castle, with its beautiful tapestries, stained glass windows and minstrel’s gallery.
In 2002, a volume of Italian music manuscripts was discovered in the archives of Berkeley Castle. Amongst these were some Vivaldi arias (thought to be the only known copies), from his opera La Costanza Degli-amori e de gl’odii (The triumphant constancy oflove and hate); excerpts from these are incorporated throughout the work in the cor anglais. The jaunty melody of Dentro al sen del sol ch’adoro (Deep within the sun that I adore) evolves from the texture towards the end of the piece,and other extracts quoted or alluded to are: Lascia almen che ti consegni (At least let you surrender), Parto con questa speme (I leave with this hope) and Per Scorgere (To forsee truth). I am very grateful to Mr David Smith, Berkeley Castle Archivist, for his research support, and to Mr John Berkeley for his permission to use quotations from these manuscripts.
Liz Lane, August 2012