Portrait of Mark Bowden under some lights
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(2008) 9’
for orchestra


The Welsh word ‘tirlun’ refers to the idea of landscape and also to the relationship people have with their surroundings. When I was approached to compose this work for the Ulster Orchestra I was asked if I could create music in response to the landscape of my native Wales. I thought about the area that I grew up in, where highly industrialised communities existed amongst the beautiful landscapes of the South Wales Valleys creating stark contrasts between nature and industry. At the time I was also reading poetry by T. H. Parry Williams; the following passage provided an initial stimulus for the piece.

Ni byddaf yn siwr pwy ydwyf yn iawn
Mewn iseldiroedd bras a di-fawn

- Mae cochni fy ngwaed ers canrifoedd hir
Yn gwybod fod rhagor rhwng tir a thir.

Ond gwn pwy wyf, os caf innau fryn
A mawndir a phabwyr a chraig a llyn.
I don’t know who I am
On rich lowland lacking peat

- Down the centuries my red blood
Has sensed the differences between land and land.

But I know who I am, if given a hill
Peat-bog and rushes, rock and lake.

T. H. Parry Williams (1887-1975)


‘Bowden’s Tirlun displayed huge confidence with the orchestral medium’ / Wales Arts Review
‘The Welsh landscape which was evoked contrasted the stillness of nature with the busyness of industry, and was founded on a solid bedrock of musical material’ / Seen & Heard International

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