Commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
One mild and sunny day in January 1982, as I took a stroll through Hyde Park in London, I passed the Serpentine Gallery, which was presenting a retrospective exhibition of paintings by the Scottish painter, Craigie Aitchison. I was completely alone as I looked at the paintings, which at first seemed rigorous in their construction, austere, even puritanical but also full of fanciful elements which delighted me. The paintings soon captured my imagination, and I was profoundly moved. I became there and then, a great admirer of this elusive and mysterious painter.
Thirteen years later, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra asked me to collaborate, with a living Scottish painter of my choice. The purpose of this collaboration was to bring together, a painter and a composer, to hopefully, forge a creative relationship, which would eventually bring forth a new painting and a new composition for a chamber orchestra, which would be performed with the painting present on the stage.
I chose to work with Craigie Aitchison, and to my utter delight, he accepted. We soon came to the conclusion, that he should paint a large crucifixion, but he has painted many paintings on that subject, which are much admired. About a year later, a new crucifixion by Craigie Aitchison, hung on the wall in my workroom, and remained there while I completed the musical part of the collaboration. Every morning, this powerful painting greeted me, as I walked into my room, it really came to dominate my thoughts for several months.
My composition takes the title from the painting itself, and is in fact, my second attempt, at creating to some extent, a complimentary musical equivalent. But at the same time, it expresses my own thoughts and feeling relating to the crucifixion of Christ. It was never my intention to compose a ‘religious’ piece of music, but it was much rather my intention, to try to create good orchestral music, with variety of moods and textures, ranging from the start and dramatic, to the quiet and lyrical.
The painting by Craigie Aitchison, has most certainly guided me when composing this work, and it is to a large degree responsible for the final outcome. Without it, the music would never have been written.
© Haflidi Hallgrímsson