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maecenas music - wind bands and ensembles

Spring at Nine Stonesfor Symphonic Wind Orchestra

Carroll, Fergal


‘The Nine Stones’ is a national landmark at the foot of Mount Leinster which dominates the landscape of the border between the counties Carlow and Wexford, close to the town of Bunclody. From here, on a clear day, you can see eight counties: Carlow, Laois, Kildare, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford and Kilkenny. Spring at Nine Stones was commissioned by the Mount Saint Charles Academy Music Department (Woonsocket, Rhode Island, U.S.A.) to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of their friendship and exchange visits with the F.C.J. Secondary School (Bunclody, Co. Wexford, Ireland).

Spring at Nine Stones follows a similar form to an earlier piece of mine, Winter Dances, in that it is in three movements, each named after a month of a season of the Celtic calendar. I imagined the view from The Nine Stones changing as each month passed. The piece is built on two fairly simple musical devices: firstly, repeated sequences of four chords and secondly the layering of distinct tunes over these patterns.

February begins with a slow statement of the main theme. Once the quicker tempo is established, it allows for the introduction of new themes, some of which are layered over each other, all this over sequences of four chords. This finally ‘breaks down’ and the music is reduced to its various basic components while momentum is maintained by a repeated ‘riff’ on the hi-hat.

March is in the new time signature of 5/4. A simple ostinato-style melody moves from the flutes to the clarinets whilst a counter-melody is layered over it. A new, more expansive theme is heard, first in the upper woodwinds and then the entire band.  The original melody and counter-melody return bringing the movement to a close.

April opens with a clarinet solo heard over rhythmic interruptions on the snare drum making the mood feel slightly more vigorous. New themes layer over one another until respite arrives in a duo for flute and trumpet who introduce more reflective material. The final section of the movement sees the return of earlier themes which build to a forceful ending.

F. C.

Grade AB 4-5 US 3.5

c:10.00 minutes


Set and score

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Spring at Nine Stones

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