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Holding On

BASIL RAMSEY writes a second coda to composer neglect

Whilst some composers prefer living in a town house others prefer a rural community in which fast action is confined to locals downing pints in the pub. There are many of artistic temperament whose gifts flourish better in the quiet, and for me one composer whose character and music typify this existence is Trevor Hold. He is an expert on country lore just as enthusiastically as on English song and its composers - of which a book is on the way.

By my last count Hold has written 15 song cycles which rank as major works; and several of them have been premiered by our finest singers. None are published, which frustrates the benefits of promotion. Neither have any found their way on to record, which frustrates the benefits of familiarity.

Trevor Hold is another composer who accepts the trials and tribulations of expending creative energy with equanimity, and channels whatever deep-seated frustration burns into his mind by digging the garden and tending his plants.

Trevor has composed the most practical of works for good amateur choirs and groups who like stage music with some dramatic opportunities. There are biggish orchestral works for professional performance, and the most delightful solo songs, sometimes to his own poetry and often to the best of English writing.

Here is a situation which is repeated the world over: creative souls writing as the muse dictates and living in a world mostly indifferent to the results. Nobody is directly responsible for this wastage of abundance. Nature does it endlessly. The sadness comes when reflecting on the abundance of creation through the human mind and the opportunities for performers if only they were consistently aware of what is there for the asking.

This morning quite by chance I listened to a new CD collection of shortish organ pieces by Bach which he dropped before completion. In some cases you feel that his decision was right, but in others you feel a wrench as something good suddenly collapses. Composers come in various flavours: those who start much and never finish; those who finish pieces that are already doomed from paucity of invention, and those whose judgement is sound and therefore know if a new piece is worthy of promotion.

What Trevor Hold has composed to his own satisfaction is worthy of us as performers or listeners. Should any reader care to investigate further, please send me an email.

Copyright © Basil Ramsey, July 7th 1999

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