When I was child, with my mum’s encouragement, I listened to an audio cassette of Mark Twain stories. Amongst the stories was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, years later whilst talking to friend about older American dialects I googled the chapter where Tom tricks his friends into painting a fence by pretending its fun. I read the list of items he swapped with other children for the right to paint the fence, it made everyone in the room burst out laughing. I decided that would be a good basis for a piece.
To structure the piece Ryan took the structure of one famous sonata, one concerto and one symphony and then miniaturised them to 1:50, the scale of a toy soldier. Most of the sections portray two of the items listed:
…twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn’t unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar – but no dog – the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain.
The piece was recorded by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in March 2014, though without many of the theatrical elements marked in the score. The piece will receive its full premier on 2nd June 2014, with the Sergio Leone effect inspired elements intact including hat pulling, and foley effects. Below is the B.C.M.G. recording: