'Bernard Kane's music conjures up the images he portrays in a timeless manner;
it's as though the music has always been there. Beautiful'. James Dean Bradfield - lead singer, Manic Street Preachers.
'...it was the Hillman Quartet’s viola player, Bernard Kane, who stole the evening with the world premier of his tone poem, Sargasso, conceived on Elbow Beach, Bermuda, an area of shipwrecks, tornadoes and tragedy. It was intensely moving, graphic, haunting; a piece I hope to hear again'. - Wiltshire Gazette and Herald
'Hiraeth' is a welsh word that has no direct translation, although it can be described as many emotions in one; particularly one of a longing for home, and specifically Wales. These works all have the idea of hiraeth at their heart and all have connections with the sea; they are either written about, or are inspired by, that universal body which both unites and divides us.
I had the most wonderful time recording this album and am incredibly grateful to all of the wonderfully talented Kane Players and also to: Martin Briggs,
Francis Brown and Garfield Austin (recording engineer).
Sargasso was written for my friends Will, Simon and Kyle in the Hillman Quartet. The melody struck me when I was living in Bermuda, sitting on Elbow beach, looking over the Sargasso Sea - it was dead clam at the time. Bermuda is a place of stunning beauty; the pink beaches are famous and the sea is a stunning cobalt blue, yet they have also been an area of violent storms and shipwrecks - the discovery of the islands by the wreck of the Ventura in 1609 forms part of the island's flag. My feeling of hiraeth when I was there was pretty strong and I think that the turbulence in this work is present. I completed the work in St Ives, Cornwall in January 2011.
Bardsey Sound was commissioned (my first commission) by Jim Cotter - Priest-in-charge of Saint Hywyn's Church, Aberdaron, North Wales. It was premiered on May 5th, 2012 at the church.
Near Aberdaron lies Bardsey Island - a place of pilgrimage for centuries. In order to get to the island, pilgrims had to cross Bardsey Sound - some of the most treacherous waters in the whole of the British Isles - many would never make the journey, but the ones that did, believed that it was the link to the next world…
I spent time in both North Wales and in St Ives, Cornwall writing the work. Strangely enough, when I was two-thirds into the piece, I had writers' block (I was in St Ives at the time). I decided to take a walk and clear my head, and whilst turning the corner on the Island, I saw a man whom I was convinced was my dad - I almost said 'dad, what are you doing here?'. It wasn't him - he passed away in 2005 - but it was an incredible feeling. I ran back to the Sloop (where I was staying) and finished the work.
If you listen very carefully, you will hear a blackbird singing in the final section - the bird must have been sitting in a tree outside the church when we made the recording - I could not resist in keeping the little singer on the track.
A few years ago, a very good friend of mine, Natasha Robins, announced that - on a whim - she and her partner had married in New York City. I was delighted at this news and - after a few celebratory beverages - announced that I should write a work as their wedding present; the result turned out to be Vernal River.
The nucleus behind Vernal River occurred to me whilst I was cycling the Taff Trail - a trail that follows the river Taff from its source on Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales to the sea. What has always inspired me about this river - and indeed rivers in general - is how their flow is eternal; the journey is continuous and unending until they reach the sea - a great metaphor for life. It is the river's eternal journey which captures my imagination; how it has been doing this for thousands upon thousands of years.
The main melody - which begins in the solo viola - struck me whilst I was viewing the river Taff in dead calm - the area known as Blackweir - and as I wrote the work, I imagined the river's journey in sound on the Spring Equinox - the Vernal Equinox - when the death of winter is about to burst into vibrant spring, as it does so dramatically in South Wales. The result is this work.
St Cuthbert (Dunraven Bay).
St Cuthbert (Dunraven Bay), was written for my older brother's wedding in November, 2011. I was sitting on the beach in Southerndown, South Wales when the melody struck me. This was my gift to David and Lynne. The title comes from the name of the bay in Southerndown, and the name of our small parish church of St Cuthbert, Cardiff Docks, where the wedding took place. I must add that many of the melodic ideas I use in my writing would not have existed had it not been for St Cuthbert's - who's parishoners are by far the most wonderful people extant! Our weekly - and daily, when we were in school - hymn singing was my first link to music, and I firmly believe that the glorious melodies which exist in these hymns would never have been displayed to me had I not experienced the wonderful upbrining I had received from my great family.
Iris was commissioned for the Iris Prize Festival. It will be used the background music to the montage of all thirty finalists at this years Iris Prize Festival to be held in Cardiff in October, 2012. I was walking along the coastal path from Bondi to Coogee Beach, in Sydney, Australia back in February 2012. The walk along this part of the New South Wales coastline is breath-taking: the cliffs sweep majestically into the Pacific Ocean. There was not a cloud in the sky and as I watched three surfers battle with the elements - risking life and limb as they rode a wave, then pull away just before the wave hit the rocks - the main melody of the montage struck me. I sketched it down and this is the result of that magical time I spent in Australia.
Finally I wish to dedicate Hiraeth: Longing for Home to my family:
Mum, Johanna, Rod, David, Lynne, Paul, Annemarie, Carl, Robert, Robert, and my nieces and nephews: Sophia, Francesca, Jack, Julia, Daniel, Ben, Lucy, Mollie and Isabelle.