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Sally Beamish Imagined Sound Of Sun On Stone, The (1999) 20'
S-Sax / 2(1)22(1)2(1) 2200 Perc Str
Commissioned by: St Magnus Festival & Swedish Chamber Orchestra
First performed on: 21 Jun 1999
First performed by: John Harle (sax); Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Joseph Swensen
First performed at: St Magnus Festival, Kirkwall
I have drawn on music from various cultures to create a `hymn' in celebration of the coming of light and the turning of seasons.
The piece begins with a reference to a Swedish herding call - a special high-pitched song which carries over long distances. This music returns as a refrain throughout. The first part of the piece is inspired by ancient natural horns and primitive drumminjg, interspersed with more modern `blues' harmonies, and the climax is reached as a bell-like, clamour in C major, depicting the moment at the solstice when light enters the prehistoric tomb.
After this the music becomes more fragmentary; half-heard glimpses; as if the shaft of light has somehow released sounds stored in stone for millennia; layers of music long forgotten. Christian influences appear, drawing on psalms and chants from different traditions celebrating the enlightenment of Whitsun.