Penitential Psalm is based on the correspondence between Galileo and his daughter, and was commissioned by the Norwich Festival with funds from the Eastern Arts Board. It was first performed in Norwich Cathedral and subsequently in concert with the author of Longitude, Dava Sobel.
Listen to Penitential Psalm here:[Audio http://radiomovies.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/02-penitential-psalm.mp3%5DLike many others, I’d read Longitude and loved it, having long been obsessed by the story of Harrison’s Chronometer. I wrote Harrison’s Chronometer in 1999 (Listen to it here). It was released as the B-side and companion piece to The Glass Cathedral (which you can hear here).I had sent Dava a copy of the CD and we devised a performance event to perform together based on her next book.
The piece is a really simple sequence of verses over which a single line weaves an ever more plaintive melody. I wrote it with Norwich Cathedral in mind, a beautiful, warm-stone acoustic with silvery reflections. It works as an inversion to The Diver in the Crypt which is my attempt to depict Winchester Cathedral…
©Philip Sheppard 2009