Never… Never… Never…

© By Stephen Gardner

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The inspiration for Never .... Never .... Never ... was the triptych Three Screaming Popes by Francis Bacon. which I saw in the Tate Gallery in 1983.

It is a very arresting interpretation of the Velazquez painting of Pope Innocent X. I often wondered what Bacon’s take on ‘Big Ian’ Paisley would be (Study after Velazquez. 1950 is eerily prophetic).

Paisley was more of a gulderer than a screamer, he often started with quieter moments (in true preacher style) interspersed with hints of what was to come. This work is a musical interpretation of an imaginary painting.

The phrase ‘Never .... Never ... Never .. .’ comes from a speech Paisley made against the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 I’ve used his defiance as a backdrop to the general feeling of simmering conflict which a lot of us were subjected to during The Troubles. As is often the case. the warmongering minority take over and the majority just get on with it.

There are two distinct sections the first part begins with a sonic backdrop which builds to a period of high tension. This is released. The vibraphone plays a very slow rendering of The Sash (a popular song associated with the unionist tradition) A plaintive cello line leads to a reprise at a little retrain The brass announces the second part. Various sections of the orchestra compete This leads to a string passage.

Forces begin to assemble. The snare drums add commentary. All the tension is released unto a duet from the snare drums. I’d heard drummers practicing for the World Pipe band championships in 1992. They were amazing . It was in my head for years to somehow capture their interplay. All players interact in the drive to the finish, which releases onto a siren call from the trumpets.

Recording courtesy of RTE lyric fm ,

Composers of Ireland Series Volume 7