Gwyneth Walker

Language of the Soul

for Trumpet and String Orchestra (2008)
(piano reduction available)

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It is often said that music is the language of the soul. This sentiment originates with Plato, and resounds through musical writings over the centuries. Thus, with a focus on the humanistic and expressive nature of music, this four-movement work for trumpet and string orchestra aims to explore several of the “messages” which the soul might choose to speak: peace, wonder, freedom and joy. Words cannot always adequately convey these concepts and emotions. Music has the capacity to powerfully capture moods – to touch upon the outpourings of the soul.

“The Soul Speaks of Peace” focuses upon a cantabile melody introduced by the trumpet. This theme is repeated and expanded in dynamics and range, leading to a middle section of falling patterns in the strings. A secondary theme is heard in the trumpet. The opening material returns, including a cadenza in the trumpet. The ending is quiet, fading away.

“Wonder” might be heard in the opening overlapping tones played by the strings, marked “as stars appearing in the sky.” Each note is perhaps a different star, appearing briefly and then becoming part of the entire night view. The trumpet enters, filled with wonder at the beauty of the canopy of stars. Ascending lines, often heard in the strings, draw the attention back upwards to the sky. An energetic section arrives, perhaps expressing the exuberance of experiencing the surrounding wonder of the universe. A solo violin remains at the end – one lone star.

An impish, playful character appears as the “Free Spirit.” The trumpet and strings dialogue in a series of short, bouncy patterns. Eventually, the mood switches to that of the blues, with a “soft shoe” rhythm. Although the instruments occasionally play together, the texture is predominantly a “back-and-forth” of ideas, trying to decide who gets the last word!

“The Soul Sings with Joy” is a highly energetic expression of the thrill of being ALIVE! The music races along, often filled with upward scales and upward glissandi. This is not intended for the faint-hearted violist! Yet it will be the trumpeter who is called upon to give the utmost energy to a role which is truly celebratory.

Language of the Soul was commissioned by, and is dedicated to, trumpeter Tim Hudson of Greensboro, NC. Tim Hudson and Gwyneth Walker met several years ago, and have been collaborating on new works ever since.

Notes by the composer