Over the past few years the work of the Arbroath-born composer Morris Pert has been at the centre of my musical activity. It was a particular privilege to perform, along with soprano Chloe Foston, a short memorial concert of his compositions at St Vigean’s Church on the day his ashes were laid to rest in his parents’ grave (there’s a film of part of this on YouTube at morrischurchtrack2.wmv) . Subsequently, Chloe and I performed his music at the Fringe.
Hearing about this, the composer Marc Yeats suggested that I should approach other composers to write pieces that could be performed alongside Morris’ music. One of these composers, Edinburgh based Iain Matheson, suggested I choose a theme from Pert’s music as a unifying factor, to which end I chose the “Drosten” theme from the first of the “Stones” suite for piano. It is a musical encryption of the only surviving Pictish verbal inscription: DROSTEN IPE VORET ETT FORCUS, and is to be found on the side of the 8th century Drosten Stone in St.Vigean’s. The musical pitches are: D,F#,C#,G#,A,E,A;C,D,E;B,C#,F#,E,A;E,A,A;F,C#,F#,C,B,G#.
The first two pieces to be completed were “The Little Cloud” by Geoff Hannan and “Drosten” by Iain Matheson, and both were played in a recital of Morris’ piano music in Dundee in early 2012.
Next was a piece by Marc Yeats himself. I had asked him for a 5 minute left hand piece(I will write of my interest in left hand pianism elsewhere); what emerged was a 40 minute sequence of 8 movements under the title “The Magical Control of Rain”. I am hoping to premiere the first two movements in London in November: the whole is being prepared for performance and recording by the pianist Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont.
Recently another piece “Green Odyssey” has been written by the organist/composer and long term Pert aficionado Michael Bonaventure. This will also be premiered in November.
To be continued……