for bass clarinet
duration ca 5'
Amhrán Fheilimidh (2017) was commissioned by Dr Sarah Watts for performance at the International Clarinet Association’s ClarinetFest in Orlando, Florida, USA in July 2017. Sarah was curating a programme of works influenced by the folk music of the British Isles. Having performed my music before and with the knowledge that a good deal of my work is influenced by traditional Irish music, Sarah approached me to write a short work for the bass clarinet with some specific reference to traditional music from the North of Ireland where I come from. This particular work draws on an iconic traditional song entitled Báidín Fheilimidh from the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) of northwest Donegal. Báidín Fheilimidh (‘Phelim’s Boat’) is a jaunty, repetitive communal song in 3/4 that we learnt in our youth during summer trips to the Gaeltacht. The song tells the story of Feilimidh’s little fishing boat that is travelling to the island of Gola just off the coast of Donegal. It celebrates how fantastic the boat is – ‘she is tiny, ...lively, ...beautiful, ...trustworthy etc’ – before bemoaning the destruction of the boat in the second verse as it founders off the coast of Tory Island. However, we never hear what becomes of Feilimidh! My short Amhrán Fheilimidh (‘Phelim’s song’) plays with both sides of the story, reflecting on the playfulness of the original but also trying to evoke aspects of the vast expense of the sea, from its physical characteristics to its poetic awesomeness.
27.07.2017 — Sarah Watts (bass clarinet), ICA ClarinetFest 2017, Hilton Double Tree, Orlando, Florida, USA