Duration: 10′

  • Piano and wind quintet
  • Gemini Publications
  • Commissioned by Richard Shaw and Emma Williams for Ensemble Lumiere
  • First performance 17 February, 2002  |  Richard Shaw (pno) and Ensemble Lumiere  |  Woking Music Society, HG Wells, Surrey

Arctic Circle (2001) for piano and wind quintet, takes as its inspiration two myths associated with the Northern Lights. In some Scottish legends the Northern Lights are called the Nimble Dancers and are perceived either as warriors or as benign giants that dance in the sky. In the outer sections of Arctic Circle I imagine these capricious Celtic giants moving with dexterity across the sky, their shapes reflected in the sea. Theirs is a dance of extremes, with few half-measures in dynamics and a certain wackiness. The central section, Fox Fire, draws on the Finnish legend of the arctic fox, which strikes the snow with his tail, causing a shower of sparks to leap into the air. This frosty music spins a delicate web of sonorities. It is then enclosed by those agile but robust giants, bringing the music full (arctic) circle. The work was commissioned by Richard Shaw and Emma Williams for Ensemble Lumiere.