© By Philip Flood
Speaking to Hilary Bracefield, Flood said that Rising, his 1995 commission for the Ulster Youth Orchestra, was written after the ceasefire and so “became more optimistic than it might otherwise have been”.
Philip Flood was drawn to his Irish heritage from an early age and was always fascinated by folk tales. “In many ways this took precedence over writing any music that was directly inspired by the Troubles in relation to what was happening in the North from 1969 onwards. At the time it felt too close, raw and immediate and would only, in my opinion, polarise those who might hear the work.”
“In hindsight I think I was writing works that related to Ireland and Ireland’s history as oblique references to the current situation. So, there was an opera fragment for Opera Theatre Company which was around the Easter Rising [Con(vict) 12], settings of Yeats and Joyce, and a very Stravinsky-inspired Mass which also had a lot of my own Catholic faith in it.”
“To be honest, the Troubles had no direct link to my music in terms of style, language, etc. However, indirectly it totally drove everything that I wrote, in that it was written, up to 1986, in the environment of the Troubles. It was through writing music that I managed to leave Belfast and so it was, in a very abstract way, a driver of my musical style. In hindsight, it was also interesting looking back to Northern Ireland from my base in London; some of my work reflected that sense of distance. There is a piece for four hands at one piano called Across the Water which used snippets of She moved through the fair; I don’t think I would have written that had I stayed in Ireland.”
“In some ways the Troubles had no effect on my music as I didn’t specifically use them as source material. On the other hand they influenced me a huge amount in terms of looking at my overall Irish heritage and, later in my career, always wanting to preserve a sense of ‘Norn Irish’ identity as an artist. I still refuse to lose my accent although I have now been out of Ireland longer that in it.”
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Recording courtesy of the composer and the Ulster Orchestra (recorded at the Ulster Hall, 2014)