The Island of Patmos-SOLO OB

Composer: Bingham, Judith

Publisher: Masters Music

Edition: 9470


The Island of Patmos (2001)
for solo oboe
by Judith Bingham (b. 1952)- British composer and messo-soprano

Published by Maecenas Music (England)

Duration: 8:30

This piece would best be performed in a reverberant chapel on a Greek island, the sound of the sea in the background. There is a natural tension between the Pythagorean and the Messiaenic. The major tonalities keep trying to imposer themselves and are subverted by the sixteenth notes of the octatonic that reels into the fantasia mode quickly, and then those major tonalities spread themselves out over an octave and a third. The heaven and hell of it! You need the reverberation to let the tonalities echo back and forth. The whispering staccatos swell to almost shouted whisperings. But then the calm Pythagoras gets his say, too. 

And then the ascending open fifths seem to be suggesting a 'synthesis' of the thesis of the Pythagorean and the antithesis of the octatonic. Now the 3 theses compete and interrupt and then the trumpet call of nature, of mystery, or the overtone series. Could this be resolution? Not really. Perhaps the staccato overtone stated in the closing gesture suggests that there will be an even different synthesis. 

Not only a resonant chamber but a strolling oboist wandering off into the narthex and then outdoors to overlook the sea and the invisible shooting stars in the sunlit sky, and the moon roaming high and naked searching for the angels. The light, the sea.

-Randall Davidson

This piece was written on the island of Patmos in June 2001. The Bells quoted are those of the Monastery of St. John.