Monthly Archives: February 2014


Yesterday I had the pleasure of playing a Morris Pert programme in Scotland’s national sanctuary, St Giles, the High Kirk of Edinburgh: a fitting venue for a composer of national significance. Observers of the Scottish scene will be aware of the extreme bitterness which has characterised the debate in a certain referendum campaign-to the extent that I presently feel uneasy presenting an avowedly “Scottish” programme lest it be a stimulus to false imputations of political intent. I intend to write more on this in future posts: suffice it to say, I see no simple continuity between music and politics.
Happily this issue did not raise its head on this occasion; furthermore, any anxieties I felt about the venue’s acoustics, & the piano were also unfounded: the Pert piano music (& the other items on the programme) seemed to work exceptionally well.
In addition to the Stones suite & Sonores II , I played “Moon Dances” a 1973 sequence inspired by the planetology of the 4 Galilean moons of Jupiter. An example of Pert’s space music, it is a prototype for the larger “Voyage in Space” of 1977, being studies in piano sonority, and fascinatingly containing themes and features which are further developed in later works.
It was very pleasing to have in the audience 2 of the contributing composers to the Pert piano project: Iain Matheson and Michael Bonaventure, whose pieces Drosten and Green Odyssey received further outings. Incidentally, Michael has often played and recorded on the organ in this venue.
The shortest item on the programme was John Tavener’s “Zodiacs” written 17 years earlier to the day,27th February 1997. Around Hogmanay, BBC4 screened a film about Tavener who had recently died: it included a clip of a 1972 performance of a memorial piece for Stravinsky: the percussionist was none other than Morris Pert, then a pioneering performer in this field.
Latterly, Tavener had become better disposed to Stockhausen’s work, so it seemed right to include the 3 winter melodies from Tierkreis: Capricorn-Aquarius and Pisces: I am told his trumpeter son Markus has also played in St Giles.