A new work dedicated to Eddington was given its premiere in the concert. On Wicken Fen has been written by Glasgow University’s composer in residence, Drew Mulholland.
Wicken Fen is Britain’s oldest nature reserve, a fragment of the great wetland that once stretched from Cambridge to the Wash. It is a place where Cambridge students and staff, such as Eddington, loved to explore, with the sound of reed and sedge warblers in spring and the sight of bright yellow brimstone butterflies, and then the riot of wild flowers in the summer, with the air teeming with dragonflies and damselflies, and roach, rudd and perch in the water. It is indeed a place where humans can get closer to another world, an older and more natural one.
A sense of place is something primary to Drew Mulholland. He is the leader of a group of individual musicians who are pioneering a concept they call psychogeography – the idea that landscape shapes our minds deeply, not just our immediate perceptions but something that can affect mood, memory and behaviour.
In various recordings which he issued as Mount Vernon Arts Lab he has explored techniques of electronic music, He has been described as a one-man radiophonic workshop, and indeed he is an admirer of the work of the BBC’s Radiophonics Workshop and in particular the composer Delia Darbyshire, who created the original Dr Who theme in the early sixties.
He composes for instruments and for the human voice, including Geographia Mundi which he wrote for the centenary of Glasgow University’s Geography Department and which can be heard in the background of a video produced for the occasion.
Geographia Mundi was performed by the Mayfield Singers in the Cathedral concert, while On Wicken Fen, along with another of Drew Mulholland’s compositions, Stella Nova was played by a string group including members of Orkney Camerata, brought together by violinist Lesley Macleod.
Other works featured by the Mayfield Singers were Weelkes’ Thule the period of Cosmography, Snowdon’s Betelgeuse, and Bach’s Der geist hilft. George McPhee, the organist of Paisley Abbey, played Vierne’s Claire de Lune (Pieces de Fantasie Op 53) and Parry’s Chorale Prelude on Croft’s 136th ‘Ye boundless realms of joy’, and he joined the Mayfield Singers for Haydn’s The heavens are telling.
George McPhee, who has been Organist and Master of the Choristers at Paisley Abbey since 1963, is also Visiting Professor of Organ at St Andrews University. He is in great demand as an organ recitalist and choral conductor throughout the UK and abroad. He has made a large number of recordings in both capacities, and has broadcast frequently. Notable performance venues have included the Aldeburgh Festival, the Royal Festival Hall in London and many recital tours of North America.[/two_third] In the concert in St Magnus Cathedral excerpts from Eddington will be read by Dave Grieve, and background images of Orkney’s night skies will be provided by members of Orkney Astronomical Society.
In the concert in St Magnus Cathedral excerpts from Eddington were read by Dave Grieve, and background images of Orkney’s night skies were provided by members of Orkney Astronomical Society.