This piece is written for solo flute only and is biographical – as a tribute to Nelson Mandela, I wanted to paint his life with the colours of the flute.
It starts with his childhood, growing up in rural Transkei, where he was very close to nature and spent time in the fields herding cattle. When writing the song, I was thinking of him sitting by his cattle, listening to the beautiful sounds of nature, which even then must have been tinged with a sense of sadness, showing what was to come in his life.
The middle section of the piece starts when he moves to Johannesburg and the peacefulness of nature makes space for a train of events that would take control of his life and gather a momentum of its own. The percussive nature of this section indicates the runaway train of events, and the bits of the flute/vocal percussion is indicative of the influence that Ghandi’s idea of peaceful resistance had in his life at the time.
In the last section he retires and finally has time to spend with his family and be peaceful again. The piece ends on an unfinished note, showing that even when his life is over, his influence and memory will carry on and sustain us far into the future.