Highland Spirits for Double Wind Quintet

Highland Spirits for Double Wind Quintet


“Highland Spirits” is based on the composer’s impressions of the Scottish Highlands, one of the last great wildernesses in Europe.



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“Highland Spirits” is based on the composer’s impressions of the Scottish Highlands, one of the last great wildernesses in Europe.

Movement I – The Orkney Islands

The first movement captures the spirit of the mysterious Orkney Islands. Orkney is made up of 70-odd islands off the northern tip of Scotland. The Islands lie on latitude 59 degrees North where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet. They cover an area of 974 square kilometers, more than half of which is take up by the Mainland, the largest island. The islands are about 85 km from north to south and 37 km from east to west. Approximately 20,000 people live in Orkney. Orkney can only be reached by sea or air. Freely using the numerals listed in this paragraph, the composer loosely set up the harmonic and melodic basis for the first movement. The history of the Orkney Islands is filled with mystic folklore – from the “religious waters” and the continuous invasions of Norsemen (Vikings) to the cold wet winter nights held at bay by a drift of peat smoky libations.

Movement II – The River Livet (“The Smooth-flowing One”)

Up in the hills south of the River Spey, the River Livet or “smooth-flowing one”, rises high in the Ladder Hills. It flows gently down through the village of Tomnavoulin and onto the Bridgend of Glenlivet, flowing under the ancient packhorse bridge before emptying into the River Avon, one of the main tributaries of the River Spey. The name Livet may derive from the Gaelic liobh + ait meaning ‘slippery’ or ‘smooth’ + ‘place’. The remote valley used to be the hide-out for at least 200 illicit stills, hard at work in the early 1800’s.

Movement III – Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond is the largest loch (lake) in the United Kingdom. It is 24 miles long, 5 miles wide, up to 600 feet deep and has 38 islands. The large island in the center of Loch Lomand is called Inchcailloch, known locally as the “burying island”. Some say this is because it has a graveyard on it, others because it looks like a body laid on its back. Overseeing the Loch is Ben Lomond, a mountain 3,192 feet high. To climb the mountain, there is a path from Rowardennan on the eastern side of the loch that will take you to the top. The climb is not for the faint-hearted as the music will demonstrate!


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