Programme Notes

Andrew McBirnie - The Moon by Night

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Andrew McBirnie (b. 1971) The Moon by Night (2001)

The Moon by Night was composed in November/December 2001 and was written for Carla Rees. It is based on a Scottish metrical psalm tune, alternately known by the titles Dundee or French, which originated in the Scottish Psalter of 1615. The titles of the work come from the third stanza:

The moon by night thee shall not smite,
nor yet the sun by day.

-Psalm 121 (Scottish Psalter)

I have always been struck by the monumental dignity, solemnity and simplicity of the Scottish Psalter tunes, and this particular one has been a repeated source of inspiration for me over a period of some 15-20 years. I have always found it to be extraordinarily beautiful, with its measured, graduated rise and fall, and the flattened 7th which appears, tellingly and shockingly, in the bass towards the end of the first line.

The original version of this piece was for Kingma System alto flute and piano. An alternative version for standard (closed hole) alto flute is also available.

A version for alto flute and guitar was made in 2014 and premiered by rarescale at Aston Tirrold United Reformed Church, Oxfordshire, on 21 June 2014.

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