page 13

ONE of the more byordinar piping events over the past year had to be the sound of the 80 or so sopranos, altos, tenors and basses of the Scottish National Orchestra Chorus singing to the accompaniement of Scottish small pipes, Lowland pipes and Highland pipes, played by Rab Wallace. The work in question was 'Pipes of Peace! by Rab's Whistlebinkies colleague, Edward McGuire, an established composer in the world of modern "art" music, whose ‘Piper's Return' composition featured in the last ‘Common Stock'. McGuire was commissioned to write the work for the SNO Chorus last year for their visit to Jerusalem, where it was premiered on Dec. 29. It's first Scottish public performance was September, at the Musica Nova festival of contemporary music presented by the SNO and Glasgow University. The words of the choral piece were compiled by McGuire from the Psalms, the title bearing an anotation from the Psalms: "...for the peace of Jerusalem: and ebundance for them that love thee, Let peace be thy strength: and abundance in thy towers." He describes it as "a secular, humanistic work—-a plea for peace on a visit to a troubled region."

The performance, in Glasgow University Chapel, was a memorable one, the small pipes emerging out of the introductory discordant babble from the choir—"The wicked have drawn out the sword"—and Rab taking up the Lowland pipes and then the big pipe as the piece progressed. There were some interesting harmonics drones to be heard between the voices and bagpipes, and there was one particularly   effective moment as the chorus sang over Rab's sustained Lowland drones. The piece finished on a beautiful, pastoral note with the chorus and small pipes in gentle       harmony. .

This was the latest of several pieces by Eqward McGuire combining traditional Scottish and modern musical forms—there were strathspey and jig forms to be heard in 'Pipes of Peace’ as well as some echo phrasing reminiscent of Gaelic psalm singing.