Litholatry, li-thol’a-tri, n. the worship of stones. – adj. Lithol’atrous (Chambers Twentieth-century Dictionary, 1901).

This work is a vigorous single-movement piece that is framed by a slow atmospheric introduction and coda. The main part of the piece unfolds a long melodic line, before the tutti ensemble fragments into subgroups for a succession of short, interlocking sections. The last of these is again for full forces, building to music of pulsating energy before it dissolves into the coda. The work, subtitled ‘Exhibition for Ensemble’, was conceived as an energetic showpiece for a group such as Kokoro.

The title is a reference to my own fondness (entirely artistic rather than religious) for rock surfaces, which I have extensively photographed and which helped create the identity of my Sound Carvings series of works through the last 15 years. One particular lichen pattern influenced the path of this piece: the work’s framed shape was initially charted by taking a course across that rock pattern’s concentric circles, which, seen from above, have the appearance of a microcosmic community or fortress.

Litholatry was commissioned by the Bournemouth Orchestras for Kokoro, for whom it was written in 2000-2001, with funds from the David James Trust.

c Piers Hellawell 2001