Ewan Mackay

reflection o the hills

composer's note

Reflection O the Hills was composed for Sergio Vega Dominquez, and was funded by The Doric Board, an organisation which aims to promote Doric culture throughout the North-east of Scotland and beyond. The nature of the commission and the influence of Doric culture, and the space and place which surrounds my working environment in the North-east led me to research possible inspirations for the piece. In my research I came across a poem by Sheena Blackhall – the Board’s Machar (Poet in Residence), Glen Muick. The landscape of Glen Muick – which is around 50 miles away from my home is interesting on many levels. Part of the Cairngorm National park it is where the Lowlands meet the Highlands, it was the roaming ground of another famed Scottish writer Nan Shepard, and was the location for a holiday cottage for Queen Victoria for many years. 

This work is abstract and is a musical response to Sheena’s poem, and is in no way programmatic. It makes use of two main thematic ideas which are a constant – and are conversational with one another, throughout this short piece. As the composer, I believe this work has manifested itself in the memories and inspirations I have taken from my time in this wonderful landscape, as well as Sheena’s evocative poem and her consummate skill in being able to communicate both to Doric speakers, and to non-speakers such as myself. 

The skies drift doon – a dreepin blur That maks o ben an brae a shroud; As if grown weary o the lan, The mountain coories i’ the cloud. An naething steers within this warld O stormy lift, an troubled tarn, bit drooned reflection o the hills – As lang as Time, as bricht as starn. 

In ilka crag’s a favoured face, In ilka burn’s a frien – An aa the days we’ve been apairt Are as they’d niver been.

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