For solo cello
Composition Date: 2021
Co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Ars et Terra Festival with SACEM and Ditchling Arts and Crafts Museum.
First performed by Ghislaine McMullin as part of the ‘Dear Nature’ project at All Saints Church Hove in the Brighton Festival on 24th May 2020.
Maple arose from a commission to write a work for solo cello, to be performed alongside readings from artist John Newling’s collection of letters entitled ‘Dear Nature’; a poetic manifestation of our relationship with the natural world.
The piece is in eight short sections, to be interspersed with readings of groups of the poems. It may also be performed as a single movement. It begins with a seed – the seed of a maple tree, as it hangs on the mature tree, ready to drop. The seeds are like propellers, sometimes travelling more than a mile before landing on the ground. Maple follows the growth of the tree to maturity – which in reality would take at least a hundred years. ‘Roots, shoots’ grows downwards and upwards from a pedal note, and the dance-like ‘Flowers’ is followed by the stately ‘Tree’, and then the warm, cascading ‘Autumn’. Maple is very often the wood of choice for the back of a stringed instrument, and the last section uses open strings to explore the full resonance of the cello.
The piece starts with a ‘seed’ of only five notes, which grows into different configurations. It is intended to be played in an improvisatory style.
Maple was co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, Ars et Terra Festival with SACEM and Ditchling Arts and Crafts Museum. It was first performed by Ghislaine McMullin as part of the ‘Dear Nature’ project at All Saints Church Hove in the Brighton Festival on 24th May 2020.
Sally Beamish, 2020