Bryan Johanson Pilgrims Way

Bryan Johanson: Pilgrims Way

This post is also available in: Spanish French

Next July 15th we will be able to present you a world premiere within the program of CaminoArtes 2015: Bryan Johanson: Pilgrims Way. It will be in the courtyard of the Episcopal Palace (Palencia) from 20:30 and interpretation will be commissioned by Michael Partington and Marc Teicholz.

Note from the composer:

I composed The Pilgrims Way after my trip through northern Spain. In 2014, guitar builder Federico Sheppard invited me to Carrión de los Condes, one of the small towns that are part of the Camino de Santiago. Since 2010, Sheppard has established a cycle of concerts there for the benefit of the pilgrims who walk to Santiago and to the neighbors of the places near the Camino.

He invited me to know the experience of the Camino in the province of Palencia and to listen to some of the concerts taking place in the Romanesque churches. Places, cities and towns, citizens who welcome travelers and pilgrims, the sense of historical perspective demanded by each place, the outstanding interpretations of the guitarists who participate as volunteers and the walkers of the Camino, all impressed me and were inspirational to me. The Pilgrims Way is the result of this experience.

Although the piece consists of a single movement without interruption, it actually contains several parts as a programmatic guide. It begins with the sound of church bells. The beginning contains the first 6 notes of the “Ave Maria” by Tomás Luis de Victoria. The “Ave Maria” is interrupted by a kind of enchantment with which I wanted to remember the image of a flamenco singer preparing for his next concert in the Royal Palace of Madrid. Return to the “Ave Maria” to open a new image: the arrival of the pilgrims to Spain, the glorious musical past and its present so vital.

The pilgrimage begins: a series of variations on the bass. There are 31 variations, each of which represents a day on the Way. The basic structure symbolizes the repetitive routine of daily walking, while the variations represent the different experiences that surprise us every day. When the variations end, the pilgrims arrive at their destination: the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The final prayer is the pilgrim’s thanksgiving for the arrival at the temple of the saint. The conclusion represents the quiet departure of the cathedral of the pilgrims who are already busy planning their next pilgrimage. This work is dedicated to my friend and colleague Michael Partington.

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