Three Ancient Places was written in great haste while traveling through England with my wife and then one-year-old son. The situation was odd, since we were moving from place to place every couple of days as far east as Cornwall and as far north as Edinburgh, Scotland, where the piece was completed. Somewhere around Dunster Castle, my son acquired a tick on his neck, and from there until Scotland, we did everything we could to force antibiotics down his screaming throat. Thus, completing the piece within a week was considerably more difficult than it had to be. Still, it was completed and sent off to a competition (which I lost).
Three Ancient Places is divided into three short movements, each devoted to a prehistoric monument in England. The first, Merry Maidens, is based on the story of how this 19-stone circle in Cornwall was created. According to the myth, 19 maidens were turned to stone as punishment for dancing on the sabbath. The movement features piccolo and piano paired together, while clarinet and cello play a winding, jagged melody. The second movement, West Kennett Long Barrow, is based on the prehistoric tomb near Silbury Hill in Salisbury, a rather large example of a barrow tomb lying amidst lonely, windswept pastures. Here, solo lines are exchanged among cello, bass clarinet and alto flute, while piano pierces the texture with high tones and chords. The third movement takes Lanyon Quoit as its impetus, a dolmen not far from Stonehenge. Though situated in an isolated place, the birds and breezes made for a rather lively picture, represented by fast, jagged parallel thirds throughout the ensemble.
PARTS ARE AVAILABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE COMPOSER.