Wide Night developed from out of an earlier piece I’d written. The starting point for both was a letter sent by one of the St. Kildan Islanders, ten years after he’d been evacuated from the island. The letter evokes the nostalgia and longing he felt for the place. I wanted to write a piece that reflected these feelings. In Wide Night I’ve tried to extend this by using instruments from across time and across the world. The title comes from the poem ‘Words, Wide Night’ by Carol Ann Duffy:
Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.
This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I am singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.
La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine
the dark hills I would have to cross to reach you.
For I am in love with you and this is what it is like or what it is like in words.
‘Words, Wide Night’ is taken from The Other Country by Carol Ann Duffy published by Anvil Press Poetry in 1990.
First Performance: Wednesday 26 July 2000, CoMA One-day Summer School, Bretton Hall
The piece can be performed by a small chamber orchestra, or by a large ensemble. Many players are asked to double on hand held percussion and tin whistles, and parts are specified for a wide range of world/early instruments, including viols, Northumbrian Pipes, digeridoos, ocarinas, and Shakuhachi
COMA with funding from Yorkshire Arts
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