Caliban's Boogie

Ben Gernon asked me to write something for his concert in the St Magnus Festival on June 21 this year.  My instinct was to refuse; it would have had to follow immediately on from Stolen Smells and I guessed (rightly) that I'd be tired.  But it's 25 years since I was last in Kirkwall, playing with The Fires of London, and the sentimental bit of me said yes. 

In the end I'm glad I did; the piece is for a huge wind and percussion ensemble and is intensely balletic.  After all the operatic conventions of Smells it was nice to do the musical equivalent of chucking pots of paint at the canvas.  More seriously, I felt after Malebolge  that I needed to move in a different, less intellectually rigorous direction and this seemed as good a place to make the turn.

It was up-to-the wire for deadline and I had to prepare the parts on the flight for a much-needed break in India before emailing them from Delhi!  Here's the programme note, and no doubt I'll blog about it from Orkney:

A strange creature, Caliban.  A freckled monster as much sinned against as sinning, a mess of contradictions, imaginative, brutal and the mouthpiece for one of Shakespeare's most beautiful speeches - and certainly for his most evocative thoughts on music.  The drive of the piece grew out of these contradictons: I imagined the creature waking, from a dream of a thousand twanging instruments, crying to dream again then, contenting himself with a blown rather than a strummed music, dancing to what he thinks he remembers. 

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

SCO Wind Power Concert June 2011


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