Highland Haiku

for choir, flute and bass trombone

 

Composition Date: 2011

Duration: 15'

Instrumentation: SATB - Fl(A-fl, Picc), Btbn

 

Text: Chris Powicki

Information:

 

Commissioned by Gaute Vikdal with funding from Norsk kulturråd, and premiered by Gaute Vikdal, Elisabeth Kristensen Eide and Stavanger Vokalensemble, directed by Jørn Snorre Andersen, at the Rogaland Kunstmuseum, Stavanger, on April 10th, 2011. 

 

 

Programme Note:

 

Highland Haiku

 

for choir, flute and bass trombone

 

 

I. Oak Shadow

 

Oak shadow, branched light.

The memory of a hind

in the crushed leaf-fall.

  

II. Ptarmigan 

 

A lone ptarmigan

on the bare grass of the ridge.

Then loose rock, swift cloud.

 

III. Ditch  

 

No ewe’s reflection

in water this dead peat-dark.

Mountains stand no chance.

 

IV. Ptarmigan reprise 

 

V. Gull 

 

The moor’s silence ends

in grey sea-echoing cliffs;

vast wind, a gull’s cry.  

 

Chris Powici

 

 

 

Gaute Vikdal asked me to write for this unusual combination of musicians after he performed in a piece of mine with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra.

 

I came across the poems in a collection by the Scottish-based poet, Chris Powici*, and it struck me that the lonely sound of flute, with the more earthy trombone, would be an ideal vehicle for these evocative haiku.

 

Chris writes:

 

‘These haiku are based on journeys I made in and about the Highlands shortly after moving to Scotland in 1994. For me, the challenge wasn’t just a technical one about conforming to the orthodox haiku syllable count. The bigger challenge was to somehow suggest the sheer size and diversity of the landscape in such short poems. In the end, this turned out to be revelatory experience. Although they try to reflect a sense of magnitude in terms of mountains, sea and sky, writing these haiku also made me think about how the Scottish Highlands, or any landscape, is also made up of ‘small things’: the marks left by animals, leaf litter on a forest floor, the particular colour of water in a drainage ditch. In other words, my eyes were opened to what was around me in ways I couldn’t have envisaged until I had begun the creative journey. This is the thrill of writing poetry – the poet doesn’t just express, he or she discovers things as well. Of course, the same principle also underlies the writing and performing of music which is why I am so excited to hear how Sally’s music deepens and enlarges not only my poems but my sense of the land that inspired them.’

 

 

Highland Haiku was commissioned by Gaute Vikdal with funding from Norsk kulturråd, and premiered by Gaute Vikdal, Elisabeth Kristensen Eide and Stavanger Vokalensemble, directed by Jørn Snorre Andersen, at the Rogaland Kunstmuseum, Stavanger, on April 10th, 2011. 

 

Sally Beamish 2011

 

*‘Highland Haiku’ are taken from Chris Powici’s latest collection, the poetry pamphlet Somehow This Earth, published by Diehard, 91-93 Main Street, Callander, Scotland, FK17 8BQ

 

 

Buy/Hire from Norsk Musikforlag

 

Available Recordings:

 

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