Sally Beamish: In the Stillness


Sally Beamish was born in London. She studied viola at the RNCM with Patrick Ireland, and in Detmold with Bruno Giuranna, and was a founder member of the Raphael Ensemble. She also performed regularly with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the London Sinfonietta, and was principal viola in the London Mozart Players and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She moved from London to Scotland in 1990 to develop her career as a composer. Her music embraces many influences: particularly jazz and Scottish traditional music.


The Music

Using words from poet Katrina Shepherd, In the Stillness is a short and simple carol that was composed in 2007. Beamish writes in her programme notes:


“This short carol beautifully captures the hushed rapture of a small parish church in a snowbound landscape, just before Christmas.”


Written homophonically throughout, Beamish leaves lots of room for Shepherd’s words to shine through and take centre stage. As the voices move seamlessly together, the lyrics speak of the parish church, what surrounds it and the impact it has. Beamish uses passing nuanced dissonance between the voices to create an edge to the music. The simpleness of the piece is also attractive, with the easy movement between the voices allowing the listener to soak in the atmosphere. As the piece comes to an end, Beamish brings the voices together for the final glorious resolution.


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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