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SONG OF THE BOG ORCHID by Peter Lawson
for flute (doubling bass flute), oboe (doubling cor anglais), clarinet (doubling bass clarinet) and trumpet
Goodmusic GM139

Catalogue Number: GM139

ISMN: 9790222291188

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Song of the Bog Orchid image
Song of the Bog Orchid was originally composed in 1992 as a commission for the Nettlefold Festival, but was completely rewritten for the same resources in 2013. It is the nineteenth to be written in a projected cycle of musical portraits of the forty-eight wild orchids of Britain and Ireland, ranging from solo instruments to various combinations in chamber and orchestral ensembles.
The Bog Orchid, Hammarbya paludosa, is a rather rare and delicate little green-flowered plant, difficult to spot in boggy areas where water is fairly still and - unusually for orchids - prefers acidic conditions. Apart from a few sites in the New Forest, it is confined to the North of England, a few sites in Wales and Ireland and significantly more in Scotland, though still very uncommon there.
It has suffered a noticeable decline in recent decades, through loss of habitat due to drainage. Globally, it can be found all round the Northern hemisphere in more Northerly areas from Alaska and Canada, from Scandinavia to Siberia and Japan. It can be as tiny as the nail of a little finger and still be in flower, but is generally about as tall as between half of the width of a palm of a hand and the full width. The green flowers have, like the whole plant, a yellow-gold tinge and smell sweetly of cucumber and there are generally ten to twenty of them on a spike.
The Song of the Bog Orchid is in binary form - the first half being our impression of the orchid and its habitat and the second part being the song of the orchid itself, fancifully of course! A colour coding scheme of harmonies are used for the green and yellowish-gold, blue for sky and white for clouds, brown for dead vegetation. These first four colours mentioned are heard in arpeggiated patterns of harmony from the four instruments in overlapping layers - which then gradually change to brown.
This gives way to a sinister 'boggy' theme heard first on the bass flute which occurs throughout the piece in various guises. There follows a scherzando section describing the delicate nature of the well-hidden plant, followed by the 'song' of the plant itself - slower, sad and serene as it dies back for winter. A coda, referring back to the scherzando section, concludes the piece in a playful way as the orchid pops up again in the late spring of the following year. Peter Lawson
Duration 9 minutes

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