Vanderbeek & Imrie Composers

David Ward

David Ward

DAVID WARD’S music has been commissioned by, amongst others, the BBC, London Festival Orchestra, Edinburgh Quartet, Bingham String Quartet, Saltire Quartet, Shetland Arts Trust, Woodend Music Society, Ross Pople, Michael Beeston, Shinobu Miki, Nigel Boddice and Richard Stilgoe, with funds from the Arts Council of GB, the Scottish Arts Council, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the National Lottery as well as sponsors, subscribers and trust funds. DW has also received direct grants from the Arts Council of GB, the Scottish Arts Council and Enterprise North East, as well as from the Hope-Scott Trust and other trusts and foundations.

Keep up to date with David’s latest work on the News page of his website.

A full list of works is available at the bottom of this page.

New Issues and Selected Works
Title Page: The Garden of the Sun by David Ward, published by Vanderbeek & Imrie, contemporary music publishers

The Garden of the Sun

David Ward has provisionally finished his opera The Garden of the Sun to a libretto by NZ poet and novellist Kevin Ireland derived from the ancient Sumerian Gilgamesh epic.

Click here to view or download the full score, or here for a two page synopsis.

The Garden of the Sun tells the story of the legendary ancient Sumerian king Gilgamesh and his furious rejection but final acceptance of the inevitability of his mortality. It starts in gloom, rage and despair, but ends in transcendence, albeit with a slight twist.

Although it has some of the characteristics of an oratorio, in particular several sections of flashbacks and indirect narrative, the piece is intended to be staged as an opera, but not necessarily in a theatre. It might lend itself to a ‘concert staging’ in a church or other suitable non-theatre venue, with simple action and movement (including the four minute dance of the snake), plus lighting and projections. In such a performance the down-stage area should be as close as practical to the audience in front of the orchestra.

The quality, stamina and stage presence of the baritone who takes on the role of Gilgamesh will be crucial to the success or failure of any performance of the piece. The stage presence of the mezzo who sings Ishtar is also crucial, although her role is fragmented and she only sings for a total of about eight minutes in the two hour piece. She has the final silent gesture.

Title Page: Cupid and Psyche by David Ward

Cupid and Psyche

In August 2012 David Ward finished writing a new opera, this time based on the Cupid and Psyche myth, with a libretto written for him in 1985 by Kevin Ireland. Cupid and Psyche is a large chamber opera lasting 90 minutes for 6 singers and 23 instrumentalists (plus dancers ad lib.).

Click here to view or download the full score, or here for the libretto (including a synopsis and some general information).

These fragments of text from Scene 1 hint at the wide ranging variety of the libretto and music, including the darkly sardonic, the dreamily sensual and the tongue-in-cheek cynical. The four lines beginning ‘Love is a liar’ are repeated at the very end of the opera by the Olympian gods, representing those in authority piqued at the thwarting of their plans, and perhaps wrily amused at the thought that Psyche believes Cupid – one of their own, after all – will be a good husband.

Love is a liar
with a bloated smile,
a heart of briars
and an eye of bile …
* * *
… where mysteries become new pleasures
and pleasure is the only mystery,
where the sea of my love
swirls across the land –
and air and earth and water
become the warm shadows
of creation.
* * *
It’s so lamentably unfair
that she should have
so much to spare
yet be worth so little
in herself.
Putting on all these
magnificent airs
before her own sisters.
It’s so lamentably unfair.

Dreaming of Distant Love, a miniature paraphrase of Cupid and Psyche, was recorded in 2014 by Victoria Soames Samek (alto sax), Steve Bingham (violin), Chris Brannick (percussion [vibraphone, temple blocks and glockenspiel]) and Adrian Sutcliffe (electric piano [in a Fender-Rhodes simulation]) playing under the collective name FourSight. The miniature starts with the identical sax solo to Cupid and Psyche for about half a minute and then goes on to use material associated with the lovers, which in the opera is at its most developed and expansive for the duet which begins on page 297 of the full score.

You can listen to the recording here (also available on SoundCloud).

Title Page: Sybil by David Ward

Sybil or  The Two Nations

An opera in two acts loosely based on aspects of the novel of the same name by Benjamin Disraeli, words and music by David Ward. The events depicted in the novel begin in 1837.

My piece is loosely based on aspects (no more) of the convoluted novel, but ends up going its own way… The personal stories are set against conflict and misunderstanding between the very rich and the very poor in early Victorian England. This is a metaphor for all such conflicts between the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the weak, today as well as in the past. The story that is told of a developing love across this divide has as much relevance now as ever in the past. Disraeli has Sybil’s family turn out to be disinherited aristocrats, but for the 21st century that can be left to Mills & Boon. In my opera, Sybil remains working-class in her family origins, albeit successful rather than impoverished working-class.

I have felt unable, or at least unwilling, to provide an unequivocal ‘they lived happily ever after’ ending for the lovers, given my own downwardly mobile family background (why do politicians speak of mobility as necessarily upwards?), my sardonic sense of humour and my mildly cynical view of life. David Ward.

Click here to view or download a synopsis, as at September 2011.

Evolutionary Metamorphoses

Evolutionary Metamorphoses was commissioned by the Institute of Evolutionary Studies to celebrate the Theory of Evolution and to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth in 1809 of Charles Darwin.

“The composition of Evolutionary Metamorphoses came about as a result of a conversation I was having with a group of people at the University of Glasgow. They were bemoaning the fact that there were so many pieces of music being written in praise of God (MacMillan, Tavener, Pärt, etc.); but it seemed there were none being written in praise of Evolution.” David Ward.

Click here to view more information.

In Memoriam Simon

In Memoriam Simon was commissioned by Heather Barrington-Ward and is dedicated to the memory of her son Simon Jocelyn Barrington-Ward, 14th November 1957 – 25th July 1985.

First performance by the Morley Quartet (members of the Scottish Opera Orchestra) at Higham Hall, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria on 7th June 1992.

Performance time: ca. 8 minutes.

Click here to view or download the score.

List of works
Date CompletedTitleCategoryDurationCD available?
2017There and Back2 Cellos4 min
2017Arias and CadenzasCello, Percussion (Vibraphone, Temple Blocks, Drum Kit) & Piano23 minY (CD, DVD & Youtube video)
2016In Memoriam KeithViolin & Trombone (Baroque Violin & Sckbut)2 min
2016The Garden of the SunOpera (medium house or flexible ad hoc, semi-staged etc)2 hours
2015The Abbot of BinghamSoprano Voice, Trombone & String Trio4 min
2014DivertimentoMixed Octet (similar to Schubert’s)25 min
2014Lukkaminnie’s OoViolin and Cello2 min
2014Pleasures are Like Poppies SpreadMezzo and Piano2 min
2013String Quartet No 7String Quartet12 minY
2013Duo for Violin and CelloViolin and Cello6 min
2012Dreaming of a Distant Love (miniature paraphrase of music from Cupid & Psyche)Alto Sax, Violin, Percussion, Electric Piano2 minY
2012Cupid and PsycheOpera (chamber plus)1 1/2 hours
2011Sybil: a Nation DividedOpera (large house)2 3/4 hours
2010e-mails from Palestine (1)Voice, Trombone, Violin, Electric Violins, Percussion”25 minY
2008Evolutionary Metamorphoses23 Solo Strings25 min
2007String Quartet No 6String Quartet20 minY
2005Variations on a WaltzPiano7 min
2004More for H & SClarinet and violin2 min
2004Bassoon ConcertinoBassoon and small orchestra11 min
2003Two RomancesViolin and small orchestra16 min
2003Cello SongCello, Hp, Keybd, Strings11 min
2002Cello Concerto No 2Cello & Medium Orchestra22 min
2002Overture and ScenaSoprano & Medium Large Orchestra13 min
2002String Quartet No 5String Quartet11 minY
2001Little DuetClarinet and violin4 min
2001Sonata FantasiaCello & Piano17 minY
2000ImprovisationBass Trombone & Piano3 1/2 minY
2000Mute PlayBass Trombone & Piano8 minY
2000Doctor FosterOpera (large house)2 1/2 hoursview/download libretto
1999Songs for PattiMezzo and Piano6 min
1999Piano SonataSolo Piano23 minY
1997Concerto for Viola & PianoReduction of Vla Concerto32 minY
1997Viola ConcertoViola & Medium Orchestra32 min
1996Overture to Jack’s EngagementMedium Large Orchestra6 min
1995Entrance, Sonata & ExitTrumpet & String Quartet30 min
1995Clarinet QuintetClarinet & String Quartet30 minY
1995Stock Exchange Ballet (Timone)Full Orchestra13 min
1995TimoneOpera (large house)2 hour
1994String Quartet No 4String Quartet19 minY
1993Three Orpheus Sonnets (Rilke)Mezzo & Piano10 minJane Manning guide
1993Three Poems by J M SyngeMezzo & Piano7 min
1993String Quartet No 3String Quartet30 min
1992Violin SonataUnaccompanied Violin13 minY
19917 PiecesBasset Clarinet Solo15 min
19902 Minute CapriceBasset Clarinet Solo2 min
1990String Quartet No 2String Quartet38 minY
1989In Memoriam SimonString Quartet (solo Viola)7 min
1989Beyond the Far HaafMezzo, Bar, & Full Orch.55 minY
1988String Quartet No 1String Quartet25 minY
1988Jack’s Engagement (revised 1996)Opera (medium house)1 1/2 hoursY
1987Concert Overture on Themes from Jack’s EngagementMedium Large Orchestra13 minY
19853 BagatellesBrass Band8 minY
1984VariationsCello & Classical Orchestra18 minY
1983BurlesqueBass Trbn & Brass Band4 min
1983CanzonaClarinet & Piano3 1/2 min
1982The Snow QueenChamber Opera52 minY
1978Cello Concerto No 1Cello & Full Orchestra37 minY
1974The Death of FerdiaChamber Opera33 minY
1968A Full Moon in MarchChamber Opera40 minY