for string quintet
Composition Date: 2011
Instrumentation: 2Vln, 2Vla, Vc
Commissioned by Musik i Uppland, Uppsala Kammarsolister, and first performed by Uppsala Kammarsolister at Uppsala Konsert & Kongress on December 1st, 2011.
This short quintet was commissioned by Uppsala Kammarsolister for a programme of ‘nocturnal’ music.
I took as my starting point the idea of the evening Meeting, (‘Epilogue’), which ends many Quaker events. This takes the form of a silent gathering: a chance to collect thoughts and to be together after the activities of the day. Often, there are many impressions still racing in one’s head – but these subside into quiet contemplation, with occasional ministry given spontaneously.
The central theme is a canon by the 16th Century English composer Thomas Tallis, which is sometimes sung at the end of Quaker worship as a prelude to night. All the material relates to this very simple melody.
The piece starts with the idea of quiet breathing, with interjections by individual instruments. These become more restless and insistent, until the canon is introduced by the violas, and the mood is once again calm, settling into very soft repeated pairs of chords – again, like breathing. The music builds from here into a unified climax, from where animated solos gradually merge into a second statement of the canon, this time beginning on high violins, and bringing the music to a close.
Epilogue is dedicated to the memory of my uncle, Luke Beamish (1934-2011)
Epilogue was commissioned by Musik i Uppland, Uppsala Kammarsolister, and first performed by Uppsala Kammarsolister at Uppsala Konsert & Kongress on December 1st, 2011
Sally Beamish 2011