Sunday, 05 December 2021

Composer inspired by Henley’s charm

AMERICAN musician and composer Tom Knific was so enamoured with Henley on a visit that he named a piece of music after the town.

Duo for Viola and Double Bass was commissioned by Thomas Martin, principal double bass player with the London Symphony Orchestra, and premiered by him and violist Igor Fedotov at the International Society of Bassists’ convention at Western Michigan University in June 2005.

Knific, a fellow bassist, says his inspiration came from a “most memorable” visit he paid to Mr Martin two years earlier.

He says: “The first movement, Henley-on-Thames, is named for the extraordinarily quaint town where he lived. Henley oozes charm with its ancient buildings and lanes and the pageantry of its summer regattas. Although located a short train ride from the centre of London, Thomas Martin kept a dozen horses of exotic breeds in his front yard. I tried to imbue this movement with the feeling of an age gone by and the sense of nostalgia that this creates.

“Before departing, Thomas Martin invited us to ‘an event’, which is gentrified English for an equestrian outing. Minutes later, we were in open fields watching his daughter as well as British military officers competing in ‘The Event’. The melody for this movement, which captures the motion of the horses, was contributed by my son Gene. It is set in a theme and variations format with blues and jazz (true Americana) trades between the instruments, which gives the illusion of improvisation. In essence, it is a joyous romp.”

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