Commissioned by Kevin Bowyer, and first performed by him on the organ of the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester in July 2006, this is a piece of musical drama, reflecting on biblical and present-day conflicts in the middle-east. Halifenu, in Hebrew, means 'our new shoots', and even in the old testament the growing of vines caused neighbourhood greediness. Organ – church – bible – vine: thes connections formed themselves in synchrony with the music itself in my imagination, and fairly soon the further association – conflict – established itself through the vine-related problems of, among others, Noah and Naboth. From biblical times, the grape has in many societies symbolised fertility. Gentle rites, dances and the like, grew up around viticulture, involving prayers for the new shoots, courtship dances and celebrations.
My piece tries to encompass all these energies is close-to nine minutes of continuous music, whose dance-like and ritualistic character is emphasised by an unwaveringly quick tempo, and by the regular alternation of chant and song. The opening chant leads to an extended dance for the new growth. A courtship dance is interrupted by more aggressive music and is concluded by a song. The second 'season' begins with another chant; a fertility round-dance, song and dance are assaulted by pre-recorded sonic attacks but persist, culminating in a final dance for new growth and, who knows, in a resolution of previous conflict.