Cut Strike Throw Grip (2015-18). The 2015 version is for two pianos and electronics (6-minutes); the 2018 version is for two harps and electronics (9-minutes).
This work was first commissioned for two pianos by Kate Halsall and premiered at the internationally renowned Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. The work features on Halsall’s critically acclaimed album ‘Miniaturised Concertos | Maché’ that was released in 2016 on the leading contemporary music record label Métier. Latter performances of the work include New Frontiers Festival (Birmingham) and The Banff Centre, Canada. The commission fee and tour were supported through highly competitive grants from the Arts Council of England, Canada Council for the Arts, Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, and Performing Rights Society Foundation (PRSF).
In 2018, the internationally renowned harpist Gabriella Dall’olio commissioned a reworking and expansion of this output for two harps and electronics. Supported with funds from Creative Scotland, this output was premiered by Dall’olio and celebrated Jazz harpist Park Stuckley at the UK’s premier harp event, The 2018 Edinburgh Internal Harp Festival.
The research underpinning the development of this output involved collaboration with noted Pibroch scholar Dr Barnaby Brown (The Royal Conservatoire, Scotland) and the use of archives at The National Piping Centre, Glasgow.
This work draws upon the traditional Scottish music known as pibroch or ceòl mòr. Emerging in the 17th century as ceremonial Highland court music, pibroch was initially played on the clarsach (Celtic harp) before establishing itself as a highland bagpipe tradition. The collapse of the Clan system a century later saw pibroch’s steady decline to the extent that it is now rarely heard outside niche piping competitions. This has led to pibroch being marginalised and misunderstood, both within the piping community and by the wider public. Indeed, many are unaware that pibroch originated on the clarsach.
In terms of originality and significance, the latter output is one of only a few compositions written for multiple harps and electronics. Moreover, the work reconnects contemporary harp practice with the early tradition of pibroch. The wider impact seeks to broaden an understanding and appreciation of pibroch’s early beginnings. In recognition of this, the Clarsach Society has incorporated this output into the Aberdeen Harp Project, an initiative and collection of works that champions contemporary music for clarsach.
Reviews of the work have been positive, a selection of which has been provided below:
The music rises to an impressive, sonorous level, creating a remarkable sound through which one can imagine a myriad of ideas – at one point I imagined a terrific peal of bells – through deeper resonances as the music falls back, bringing firm resonant chords. The Classical Reviewer. (2016). Review of the album ‘Miniaturised Concertos and Maché’ by Kate Halsall. Available at: http://theclassicalreviewer.com/2016/08/a-new-2-cd-set-from-metier-features.html (Accessed: 30 May 2021).
‘The superb [Cut Strike Throw Grip] undergoes a lovely development from isolated pitches into a dense, complex electroacoustic soundworld.’ 5 Against 4. (2017). Review of the album ‘Miniaturised Concertos and Maché’ by Kate Halsall. Available at: http://5against4.com/2017/04/20/februarymarch-2017-listenings/(Accessed: 30 May 2021).