Golden Sunset for solo flute and flute choir was commissioned and premiered by William Bennett and the Japanese flute choir 'Lumiere' in Yokohama, Japan, in September 2003.
Golden Sunset was inspired by and is dedicated to the flute maker Albert Cooper who, for me, has been like a Zen master, producing amazing, perfect and exploratory instruments, his only motive being the perfection of his craft.
The initial idea for the piece came from Albert Cooper's name itself. It struck me that the letters of his surname looked a bit like a flute, and more importantly, made an interesting scale-i.e. the C, then the two open holes A and G then the P (which looks like the G sharp key), the E (as an E) and the R as any note (I have used D)-so the final scale is C, A, G, G sharp, E, D.
Golden Sunset is in three movements and begins with the notes of the open harmonics on the solo flute, depicting dawn or the beginning of time. The rest of the flute orchestra joins in using orchestrated digital delay techniques, and the solo flute then enters again with the 'Cooper' theme subsequently developed as a chord sequence. These elements form the basic musical material of the first movement.
The slow movement begins with chords developed from the 'Cooper' theme which grow into a lilting melody. This melody is harmonically influenced by modern jazz, and rhythmically by the Badinerie of Bach's B Minor Suite, a piece I have always loved to hear William Bennett play.
The last movement begins with overblown harmonics using piccolos, bass & contra bass flutes. The main theme of this movement is a frenzied Arabic semiquaver pattern which is interrupted half way through by the re-introduction of the slow melody of the second movement now re-harmonised, and backed by a strong rhythmic pattern.
The work finally comes to a close with a frenzied coda section.
I have wanted to write a piece in Albert Cooper's honour for a long time. I have admired him both for his dedication to his craft, and for his modesty and honesty as a man.