Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Beneath the Irish Sky

Today, I have the pleasure of conducting a World Premiere Performance of a new piece of music by Peter Terry entitled, Beneath the Irish Sky. It is published by Carl Fischer Publications and is available for purchase at this time. This is a work for string orchestra and is a challenging grade 2.
I was absolutely thrilled last summer when Peter Terry approached me, here at Interlochen, regarding the possibility of collaborating on some new string orchestra music. I have been familiar with Peter's work for a number of years. The Intermediate Wind Symphony (Mary Land, conductor)  here at Interlochen frequently performs his works as part of their concert performances. He and I have known each other for several years but really became closer friends in the summer of 2015, when we meet several times for coffee and conversation. We talked about what might be appropriate for my ensemble here and Interlochen and other young string orchestras around the country.
In October of 2015, I received a note from Peter along with a PDF of the score for Beneath the Irish Sky. I read the work with my orchestra at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, we made a quick recording for Peter, and the rest is history. I loved the work from the first time we played it and I think it is very appropriate for young string orchestras in many respects.
The work starts with a lovely tune in a fast 3-4 time. It is reminiscent of broad landscapes, large skies, and features beautiful sounds with an Irish flavor. It is wistful, forward moving, and beautiful. As the opening section progresses, Terry introduces some rhythmic and sonic tension into the work which remind me of, perhaps, some dark clouds coming into the picture without a full-on storm developing in the Irish Sky.
Rather than continue down the line of a stormy, agitato "B" section, the metaphorical "Sky" clears up and a spontaneous Irish dance breaks out. This section is in 2/4 time and features a wonderful melody beginning in the first violins that eventually moves throughout the ensemble. It is rhythmically energetic and continually accelerates until the work ends with a rhythmically interesting and fantastically exciting presto.
Every section of the string orchestra is featured at some point in this work and there are particularly interesting parts for the second violin and viola sections. The work provides ample opportunities for instructors to develop an ensemble's skills in articulation, phrasing, and an intricate interplay between the voices and sections. All of the parts are very accessible and there are no significant technical challenges in the work that one wouldn't expect from a grade 3.5 piece.
The performance is at 7 p.m. this evening, Friday, July 15, 2016.
The performance will be live streamed at the following link:
A recording is also available on major music retailer websites and through the publisher, Carl Fischer.
I encourage you to consider this work and hope that you enjoy the challenge and beauty of this fine writing.


  1. Scott, your description is so perfect and there is such clarity that I can almost hear it. I can't wait to stream the performance!

    -Karen (Snell) Cohen