Commissioned by Sound - Scotland’s festival of new music.
First performed at Sound 2018 by Sally Beamish, Scott Dickinson, Garth Knox, Claire Merlet, Nic Pendlebury and Stephen Upshaw
for 6 violas
After spending nearly half my life in Scotland, and raising a family there, the decision to move back to England was not taken lightly.
A series of chamber pieces that happened to follow each other over the summer of 2018 seemed an apt way to express the mixture of emotions I was experiencing at that time, and I began to plan a series of ‘farewells’ to Scotland.
The first of these is ‘A Farewell’ for six violas. It takes its inspiration from Gaelic psalm singing, in which a precentor is followed by a congregation of improvising voices, creating an extraordinary counterpoint of ornamented lines.
The psalm I took as a starting point is psalm 46 – which has at its centre the words ‘Be still’.
The piece starts with the first viola in an unsettled soliloquy, which is answered by the other violas in a gentle, consonant canon.
The variations that follow range from exuberant to wistful; until the troubled music of the opening returns - like a final questioning - before the piece closes with a downward sigh.
A Farewell was commissioned by Sound – Scotland’s festival of new music; and performed at Sound 2018 by Sally Beamish, Scott Dickinson, Garth Knox, Claire Merlet, Nic Pendlebury and Stephen Upshaw.