Ewan Mackay

In a mystic garden

composer's note

‘In a Mystic Garden’ was composed during my studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands. While working with Mark Sheridan, I was working on the idea of creating an orchestral work inspired by the landscape surrounding me on the fringe of the North-East coast of Scotland. The landscape – in some form, has proved to be a hugely impactful element of my work. Mark, in his kind way, sent me a copy of a book he had read some years ago, titled ‘The Philosopher’s Garden’. This book has been the driving inspiration for the piece. As the vast majority of my work is concerned with the wide expansive landscapes I encounter, taking the idea and paring it down to a manicured landscape represented in a garden was an interesting idea for me to write a piece around. The other interesting thing about the said book is the inclusion of 10 walks, these have been hugely helpful as each walks description and corresponding photographs have obviously informed the notes on the score. 

This piece is comprised of 8 sections. These sections are not separate to the overall work, nor should they be played as such, as each section is played attacca. I view these sectional Gardens as part of a greater whole. Each of the 8 titles within the work, such as ‘Entering the Garden’ or ‘Storm in the Garden’ are not programmatic but rather impressionist. As a composer, I am inspired by Claude Debussy and Toru Takemitsu. Having been inspired by these composers for many years, one could say I’ve grown with them. Their individual styles have mingled and blended with my own, thus creating an impressionist lens for the 21st century.

Through this, a listener hears elements of the 20th century atonal writing. I would argue that my music inhabits a place where tonal, atonal and modal writing are in conversation with one another. There is no real emphasis on one above the other, but rather the result is a kaleidoscope of sound, grown from my own inspirations and sound world.

 

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