This piece won a composers’ competition held by the University of Lancaster in 1974. The first performance was given by Christopher Rowland at Lancaster University on 27th February 1974. It has since been played by many other violinists, including Yfrah Neaman and Paul Barritt.
CANTO FOR VIOLIN is the third of a series of six solo pieces with this generic title which were written between 1972 and 2000 – there are also Cantos for guitar (1972), piano (1973), clarinet (1975), cello (1981) and flute (2000). It was written as an entry for a competition held by the University of Lancaster in 1974 – which, to my astonishment, it won. The first performance was given by Christopher Rowland at Lancaster University on 27th February 1974. Since the competition deadline was 1st January and the piece was written in December, Christmas was in the air; and the plainchant melody “Hodie Christus natus est” (an Antiphon for the second vespers of Christmas Day) is quoted on quiet, high notes near the end of the piece, punctuated by a rustling pizzicato figure, shortly before a reprise of the opening music.
Giles Swayne 2008