Dance of the Convicts
Padua - Nursery of Arts
Philomel (Song of the Fairies)
Julius Caesar - The Rebel Within
Chorale of Ages

My Score Catalogue on Score Exchange

Mark R. Bannister
Orchestral & Instrumental Composer
for Film, TV & Theatre

"No change!"

This gothic play by John Constable, a stage adaptation of two of the novels by Mervyn Peake, was a visual and aural feast when directed by Rodney Figaro at the Richmond Shakespeare Society, with clever lighting, projections and sound effects to accompany the strong cast portraying the story of Titus Groan, the 77th earl and lord of Castle Gormenghast, from birth to age 17.

The music in this show set a mysterious atmosphere when required, but also helped provide the black comic edge to the more obscure and gothic scenes.

To Gormenghast A Son (MP3 - 47 secs - 1.46 Mb) introduced the rituals and the birth of the heir to the throne of the House of Groan, a hymn-like piece performed on a blues organ. This style of organ was typical of the music composed for this production, another example is in the piece The Poisoned Chalice (MP3 - 43 secs - 1.31 Mb) which continues the deliberately exaggerated horror theme, common to the entire play.

The song sung by Chef Swelter (MP3 - 28 secs - 0.87 Mb) when his comic horror character is introduced is performed on piano and honker sax. In the RSS production, a version with bassoon was used instead.

The mysterious "thing", referred to in the RSS production as the Wild Child (MP3 - 1 min 28 secs - 2.71 Mb), a feral child who lives in the woods of Gormenghast, brought much welcome relief to the soundtrack that was otherwise becoming necessarily evermore serious and tense. This piece was written for flute and clarinet, with a string harmony that joins in halfway through.

The Murder of Barquentine was the closing climax of the first half of the RSS production. The music, agitato strings and staccato brass, builds up in tension over its duration, and was not heard in full during the stage show. A second variation of this piece was used to open the second half after the interval.

During the interval, a piece I composed for a production of Romeo & Juliet in 2006 was used, The Dance of the Capulets (Manuscript), which seemed to fit the eccentricity of the show.

Fuchsia's Suicide (MP3 - 39 secs - 1.21 Mb), reminiscent of Ophelia's similar act, was a point of high drama and the accompanying score composed for the event takes us with her as she climbs to the roof of the castle and throws herself off the parapet to her untimely demise.

Everything Returns to Gormenghast (MP3 - 40 secs - 1.23 Mb) is a piano tolling the ominous and inevitable message that Gormenghast, the castle itself, has the ultimate grip on its inhabitants and is therefore the single most important and powerful character of the play.


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