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St Andrew's Bones

Composition Date: 1997

Duration: 10'

Instrumentation: Hn, Vln, Pf



Commissioned by the English Horn Trio with funds provided by Eastern Arts Board, The Arts Council of England and The Holst Foundation. It is dedicated to the memory of Father Eric Thacker

The first performance was given by the English Horn Trio at Bromsgrove Music Club on 23rd January 1998

Programme Note:

St Andrew's Bones


Just before starting work on this piece I happened to attend a Catholic Mass at the University Chaplaincy in Glasgow.

The priest, in his address, spoke about the bringing of St Andrew's relics to Fife, and of the powerful imagery of relics and ruins. Referring to a poem of Joseph Clancy, he described the beauty of St Andrew's Cathedral as being just as moving as a living place - the ruin standing as it does against sky and sea `like the rib-cage of some long-dead god.'

I became aware of sounds triggered in my mind by this image - ancient bells and horns, and the chanting of pilgrims.

St Andrew's Bones draws on three elements - the thirteenth-century hymn to St Andrew, `Vir Perfecte'; the pitches of ninth-century Scottish bronze bells, and the natural series of a medieval horn, which opens the piece. In this context, the three instruments began to come together, creating for me a stark and poignant echo across the centuries - resonances of an ancient and powerful devotion.

St Andrews's Bones was commissioned by the English Horn Trio, with funds provided by the Eastern Arts Board, the Arts Council of England and the Holst Foundation.

It is dedicated to the memory of Father Eric Thacker.

Sally Beamish


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