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Mary Ann Calder

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Katrina Gordon studied at the Royal Academy of Music (London) and the Royal Northern College of Music, and went on to pursue a career as a freelance bassoon player in Scotland, performing with many of the leading Scottish orchestras and ensembles. She now lives in her native town of Thurso, located on the far north coast of Scotland, where her musical horizons have been widened by a lively amateur music scene.

Mary Ann Calder is an engaging and evocative extended one-movement work. Aimed at the intermediate string quartet, there are opportunities for each performer to act as soloist and accompanist in this most effective and accessible quartet. A miniature tone-poem reflecting many aspects of a Scotland long ago, which is also available for string orchestra.

'Mary Ann's cottage' is a traditional Scottish croft house, now a visitor attraction, on Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland. Whatever the weather, the croft house is always welcoming and cosy - the fire crackles merrily in the hearth, bringing back life to the cottage which the Calder family called home for over a century. The Calder's lifestyle was hard but healthy - day in, day out, they worked for their food and their fuel, and made the most of what they had.

I've found the cottage to be a very inspiring place and enjoyed writing this string quartet, which depicts a day in the working life of Mary Ann Calder. The piece opens slowly, with the gentle breathing of sleeping folk accompanied by the barely imperceptible sounds of the awakening headland. Mary Ann gets up, rekindles the fire and puts the kettle on.

A more animated section follows, as each of the family members join her to participate in the morning chores - collecting eggs, feeding animals and, of course, breakfasting themselves. The everyday jobs complete, the Calders embark upon peat cutting - an annual event where each person has a different but important task allocated to them. You'll hear the cello doing some heavy digging while others lift and toss the sod of peat - and listen out for someone preparing the all-important picnic lunch too!

Finally the peat's cut and it's time for an evening's entertainment - the neighbours are welcomed to the Calder's barn for a ceilidh. The dancing gets faster and more complex until, gradually, folk begin to drift off home for a good night's sleep and the piece fades out with just the sigh of the breeze, the sea and the sleeping headland.
(Katrina Gordon, 2009)

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Cat No. RM127
Price £9.50
ComposerKatrina Gordon
CategoryString Quartet
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level5 - 6
ISMN 979-0-57045-127-2
EAN-13 9790570451272
Weight 95 grams
Published 18th October 2009
Availability 6 in stock
See also...
RM399  Chinese Galop Op.20
RM520  Achavanich Wish (STRING ORCHESTRA)
RMS109  6 Italian Dances