• Judith Weir
  • blue hills beyond blue hills (2019)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and first performed by the BBC Singers and Ligeti Quartet conducted by Sofie Jeannin at Milton Court, London on 18th October 2019.

  • 2vn.va.vc
  • SATB
  • 35 min
  • Alan Spence
  • English
    • 17th June 2024, Snape, Suffolk, United Kingdom
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Programme Note

This 35-minute oratorio for choir and string quartet sets to music around 55 brief poems by the Scottish poet Alan Spence, mostly haiku, with occasional tanka (another, slightly longer, Japanese form). I have also included a couple of quotations from the historical Japanese poets Issa and Basho.

Spence’s poems are taken from three collections (Seasons of the Heart, Clear Light and Morning Glory – mainly the latter two) which follow the progress of a year, and portray the passing of time through small changes in nature and everyday life. I have selected poems from these collections to create a five-movement cycle which approximately follows the seasons, starting with Spring, through Summer, Autumn, Winter and ending with a hymn to the New Year.

The role of the string quartet is not generally to accompany the singers, but rather to punctuate their statements and to provide moments of repose or reflection. Alan Spence’s poems in their published form usually appear one to a page with a lot of clear space around them, and that is also the intention in this musical version.

Programme note by Judith Weir



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