I once read of an idea to establish a human colony on Mars which was at once visionary and practical. In order to acclimatise themselves, potential settlers would at first live together, sealed off from the human race on a remote Scottish island.
This is the music of the Scottish colonisers, several generations later, marooned on a lonely and distant planet; the ancient forms of their national music almost completely lost in translation, with only the smallest vestiges of the national style remaining.
Three traditional melodies are quoted, but as if refracted through space time, far distances and strange atmospheric effects. These are 'The Leys of Luncarty' (heard on the horn in the opening Strathspey); 'Ettrick Banks' (played on the clarinet in the Traditional Air) and 'Miss Margaret Graham of Gartmore's Favourite' (played by everyone in the Jig).
The movements are:
Strathspey and reel
Bagpipe air with drones
Airs From Another Planet was commissioned by the Nash Ensemble with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. The duration of the piece is around 12 minutes.
© Judith Weir
Preview the score