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The River Medlock springs up in the hills above the town of Oldham, once one of the busiest centres of the cotton, steel and coal industries on which the wealth and power of British empire were founded. By-passing the urban centre to the east, it tumbles gently down the hillside on its way towards the vast connurbation of Greater Manchester, the River Irwell, the Manchester Ship Canal and the sea. At this stage the river is at one with itself and its natural surroundings.
I hope that the music suggests that agreeable inter-relationship of earth and sky at a point where water bubbles out of the ground to start another surface journey as it moves around the planet. Human beings living near the source of a river are affected by its presence and, in turn, affect its progress by the ways they tap into its powers. (More of that in the second piece.) Rainfall, water's search for sunlight and a pathway across the land, the human delight in the presence of flowing water - all these feelings were around as the notes of this piece were jotted down.
The present revision has been made for a performance of the whole work by the Oldham Symphony Orchestra in July 2005.
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