Between the Stones are Peace and Space (2014)
Duration: ca. 10'
Premiere Dates: March 20, 2015, Boston, MA
June 18, 2015, Stockholm, Sweden
During the summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to study for several weeks in the Orkney Islands, which, though technically part of Scotland, have been a melting pot of Scottish and Scandinavian cultures for centuries. Particularly striking are the many Neolithic sites on the islands, including the two major rings of standing stones, the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, which convey a mystical sense of peace through their enduring connection to time and place. Between the Stones are Peace and Space draws inspiration both from the landscape of Orkney, as well as the cultures that make up its history. The title is taken from the poem “Hvad est du dog skøn” (“How Fair Thou Art”) by Baroque Danish poet and bishop Adolph Brorson, later set for chorus by Edvard Grieg. The open fifths and initial modal inflections are inspired by Grieg’s setting, as well as the Piobaerachd bagpiping tradition of Scotland. In Piobaerachd, a rhythmically flexible theme is varied through increasing ornamentation and rhythmic regularity. In the current work, the aspects of the Piobaerachd process occur simultaneously: the slow pulsing of the drone-notes provides a stable rhythm throughout, while the melodic lines build into an eleven-voice canon, refracted through a rhythmic process that naturally expands and contracts to yield increasingly complex rhythmic relationships that collide at the works’ climax. Ultimately, the work serves as a locus akin to a stone circle of tones, wherein cultures merge and ideas transform and reform, hollowing out a space where time can transform into peace.
— Douglas Buchanan
Between the Stones are Peace and Space
for piano solo, composed and performed by Douglas Buchanan