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Stuart MacRae

Publisher: Novello & Co

Stirling Choruses (1999)
commissioned by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Novello & Co Ltd
Works for Band/Wind/Brass Ensemble
Year Composed
8 Minutes
Programme Note
Stuart MacRae Stirling Choruses (1999)
Places and landscapes have always been an important stimulus to me when composing. Writing Stirling Choruses was therefore an opportunity for me to combine the place where a work would receive its first performance with the surroundings which inspired it. All my life I have made regular journeys through Stirling, by road or rail, and the Castle, foreboding and dark on its clifftop, has always made me imagine times long past when the Castle and its surroundings not only played a part in Scotland's history but were Scotland's history. The magnificent restoration of the Great Hall reminded me of another aspect of the Castle - its majesty and the vast expansiveness of the landscape it overlooks.

In order to reflect these impressions, and the Castle's turbulent past, the piece has six different types of material - majestic, assertive, scurrying, bold (pulsed), dry and biting, and expressive. These are divided between two ensembles (horns and tuba on one side, trumpets and trombones on the other) and a solo trumpet, and are interwoven and overlaid in many different combinations to create an ever-changing tapestry of choruses. Stirling Choruses is dedicated to Martyn Brabbins.

© Stuart MacRae

  • Ensemble
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
    Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Loré Lixenberg (mezzo)
    Ilan Volkov/Susanna Mälkki
"The craggy Stirling Choruses, filled with brassy evocating of the history of Stirling Castle, formed the rasping, sputtering, yet utterly lucid starting point of a program culminating in MacRae's Violin Concerto, surely one of the finest, most eloquent works of its kind since Berg."
Conrad Wilson, The Herald,24/11/2003
[Stirling Choruses] is full of stern character, strongly purposeful and is ultimately packing a punch. MacRae's expertise is obvious, but there's also energy and individuality.
Stephen Johnson, The Scotsman,21/10/1999
Stuart MacRae's blistering brass piece, Stirling Choruses, made the rafters ring and demonstrated the uncompromising voice of this talented young man.
Michael Tumelty, The Herald (Glasgow),01/10/1999
"...realises a dense, crunching polyphony, every strand of which is audible."
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times,01/01/0001
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