There are a number of depictions of angels in music. There’s the solitary angel which accompanies Gerontius as he journeys from this life into the next, and in Elgar’s oratorio (and Newman’s poem) there is also a chorus of angels which sing ‘Praise to the holiest in the height’ around the heavenly throne. A host of angels is featured in settings of the Mass, which includes the Sanctus, where the words of the angels are taken from the Christmas story of the birth of Christ as they proclaim ‘Hosanna in the highest’.
Thinking of these hosts of angels made me think of the sound that might be made by the beating of their wings and my Wings of Memory represents this fluttering of angels’ wings. The fast-moving semiquavers provide a drone effect, rather like an intense murmur and notes of a different pitch are picked out in a pointillist way to represent the movement of the various angels. The piece has a three-part structure, with the opening material returning after a middle section which presents a melody in longer note-values, not quite like a hymn, but a song of reverence and love. The work is intended as a joyful commemoration of Yodit and a celebration of her life and it asks the listener to imagine her soul on its journey accompanied by a crowd of angels.