First Performance Mercury Ruling and Herbie’s Funfare: 6 November 2015, Burgh House and Hampstead Museum; Annie Yim. A Hundred Monkeys: 28 August 2016, West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge; Olivia Macrae
Piano pieces written as presents for the composer’s school friends (aka “The Nuggets”), to celebrate the births of their children. Intended to be played by children and adults alike, Chapter Two is the second collection in a series of books of short piano pieces. Each explores the piano in a different way, designating a temperament to the music, inspired by the child in some way.
By chance, each of the four children that these pieces were written for were born in either air or fire zodiac signs. I took characteristics from each sign to inspire the corresponding pieces.
Mercury Ruling was written for Sebastian Charlie Reeve, whose zodiac sign is Gemini. An ultimate calmness feeds the piece, mysterious and flowing. The simple melody passes from right hand to left, over the continuous accompaniment pattern. The notes are derived from the letters in his Sebastian’s name. The second piece, a fearless fanfare, also finds its qualities in Herbie’s zodiac sign, Sagittarius. A live free improvisation by Herbie Hancock, opening Cantaloupe Island, also hugely inspired the piece. The principal theme is in fact a quote from his improvisation and this drives my composition. Herbie’s Funfare is filled with energy and determination. The witty and mischievous nature of A Hundred Monkeys is fitting for Evelyn, who is already 20 months old at the time of writing. Independence and intellect were also characteristics taken from her zodiac sign, Aquarius, to inspire the piece. Pudding and Pie is a rather imposing little piece. Its fast and fiery nature stems again from the zodiac inspiration, (George is a Leo), but it seems that the English nursery rhyme ‘Georgie Porgie Pudding and Pie…’ impacted the character of the piece more so, which is stocky yet playful.
1 Mercury Ruling
2 Herbie’s Funfare
3 A Hundred Monkeys
4 Pudding and Pie