DOMPES & JOMPES for string orchestra
Program notes by the composer
Dompes & Jompes was written in January and February of 1986 at the specific request of Scott Stroman, conductor of the recently-formed English string orchestra Opus Twenty. This group premiered the work on April 17, 1986, at St. John's Church, Smith Square, London.
The work is a suite of four movements for string orchestra, cast in the tempo scheme of slow - fast - slow - fast. The Dompe is an early type of English or Irish song, lamenting and sorrowful in character (cf. My Lady Careys Dompe, 16th- century MS, British Museum); the Jompe an upbeat work for American jazz band (cf. One O'Clock Jompe, Count Basie). Because of the circumstances of its premiere, the work was written in an "English" string orchestra style reminiscent of Elgar, Holst, and Britten (the intentional use of a fragment of "Welcome, Maids of Honor" from Britten's Spring Symphony as the basis for the third movement represents an homage to Sir Peter Pears, who died while this movement was being written).
Dompes & Jompes may be played by any number of excellent string players equalling or exceeding its originally intended instrumentation of thirteen solo performers (4-3-3-2-1). However, the composer prefers a minimum of 12-9-9-4-2 for any string ensemble larger than the original. The parenthetical designations "one only" and "all" which appear in the score and parts are primarily for the benefit of performers in this larger group, and are already implicit in the scoring for the thirteen-part organization.