The Glastry Pearl

Tone Poem Elegy For My Mum – Written in 2020

Full Score
Set Of Parts


Computer Playback

Duration : Approx. 30 minutes (Computer Playback Recording Above)


  • Flutes 1&2
  • Piccolo/Flute 3
  • Oboes 1&2
  • Cor Anglais
  • Clarinets 1&2 in Bflat
  • Bass Clarinet in Bflat (To Low C)
  • Bassoons 1&2
  • Horns 1 – 4 in F
  • Trumpets 1&2 in Bflat
  • Tenor Trombones 1&2
  • Bass Trombone
  • Tuba
  • Timpani – 4
  • Bass Drum, Sleigh Bells, Temple Blocks, Maracas, Cymbals – Crash and Suspended Snare Drum,Tambourine Triangle Tubular Bell (only 1 B bell required) Glockenspeil Xylophone
  • Celesta
  • Harp
  • Violins 1&2
  • Violas
  • Cellos
  • Double Basses

About The Work

On Tuesday March 24th 2020, one day into the first UK national Lockdown at the start of the worldwide Covid-19 Pandemic, my Mum died! She was 91 and had been poorly with many different illnesses for the previous 6 months, so we knew it was coming. But the timing and unfathomable sadness of her death, together with the start of a worldwide pandemic, little did I know it at the time, was to bring forth from me a tsunami of music the likes of which I hadn’t written for many years. A set of six solo studies for various members of the clarinet family came first, written between March 20th and April 20th. As I wrote them they were orchestrating themselves in my head and forming something else as well. That “something else” grew and grew, as the Six Studies intertwined themselves around each other and expanded together, joining forces with two brand new themes to form what soon was to become an immense orchestral work. The title was easy. Glastry is a tiny district in the middle of the Co.Down countryside of Northern Ireland, where my Mum was born and brought up. And Pearl was her name. Her full name was actually Margaret Mary Ward (eventually to become Denny when she married my Dad, Colum Denny, from Belfast), but everyone always called her Pearl. The nickname was bestowed upon her just after she was born on February 28th 1929 and stuck ever since.

The Glastry Pearl is a tribute to my Mum and the great and mighty person she was to me and all who knew her. It employs at least one theme or motif from each of the Six Studies For Various Solo Clarinets and uses them throughout the work in the from of Leitmotifs. It was only when the work was nearing completion that I began to wonder how to describe it. Freddy Naftel, a good composer friend of mine, suggested that Tone Poem was a fitting description and I immediately agreed. The music itself is completely tonal, as you can hear form the computer playback. I believe it to be a good, and hopefully fun, challenge to symphony orchestras, both professional and high standard amateur alike. It offers everything from the the somber opening to the hilarious and wildly energetic central Waltz, to the glorious soaring final section, so plenty of variety to please many palates.

The Glastry Pearl now awaits its premiere. Any takers?

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