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For orchestra

First Performed by Orchestra of Opera North, 2011.

About the Piece

The Harbinger “goes before”: it is an event whose occurrence (or person whose presence) is a signal for another future event or arrival. Originally, the word referred to a soldier sent ahead to secure lodgings for troops.  Nowadays the Harbinger is more commonly an announcer of things to come, a herald, or an omen; often, though not exclusively, for something of grave consequence.

I‘m interested in the idea of the Harbinger as it appears in literature and cinema: a character or event whose very arrival seems to point to a later, more significant event, which in turn is often the centrepiece of the narrative.  In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the madness of hospital patient Renfield acts as Harbinger for the Count’s arrival. In the New Testament, John the Baptist could be seen as the Harbinger of Christ's arrival, while in William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist, the defiling of the church statue is a Harbinger for Regan’s possession.  

With Harbinger, I explored this idea compositionally - aiming to create a work imbued with a deep sense of foreboding.

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