Commissioned by the Yehudi Menuhin School

  • 4vln
  • 10 min

Programme Note

Ceilidh for four violins was commissioned by the Yehudi Menuhin School with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain.

The Gaelic word ceilidh (pronounced 'kali’) means 'a visit' and is used to describe the traditional practice of music-making, with its emphasis upon contrasted items involving singing, dancing, and instrumental performance of considerable virtuosity in which the violin takes an important part. In remote times the practice of music was also associated with military occasions, and there exist accounts of spear-clashing dances very like those of the ancient Greeks, although none of the music has survived for these.

The work is in four sections which play without a break: Gathering, Dordfiansa (spear-clashing dance), Night, and Four-hand Reel; only the last contains any overt reference to folk material.

Ceilidh was commissioned for the School's visit to the United States of America as part of the Bicentennial Celebrations. It is dedicated to the players.