...while the sun shines… (in memoriam H.H.H.)

© By Philip Hammond

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“When Simon Taylor of BBC Northern Ireland approached me about this BBC Radio Three commission, he was planning a series of summer concerts of Irish music in 2005.

He asked me to write a piece in some way related to Sir Hamilton Harty. Consequently, everything in this piece for small orchestra – from the allusive title (think of nicknames) through to the thematic material - is in some way connected to the great Irish conductor whose life and music have always held a fascination for me.

Every Irish folksong and almost indistinguishable original Harty theme in my piece was used by that composer in his several orchestral works - notably “With the Wild Geese”, “In Ireland”, the Irish Symphony (with, naturally, a special reference to its “Fair Day” movement) and the Comedy Overture. I also use one of my own favourite Irish folksong tunes - “My Lagan Love”, the beautiful Harty setting of which I have accompanied many times in years past. There are a number of other Irish references and those of us who live in Northern Ireland may recognize the aural image of the “bands” side by side and indeed united with the harp and fiddle – a recognition of the musical traditions we all share here.

The piece is dedicated to my friend Roisin McDonough whose conscientious and energetic espousal of this society’s multi-faceted diversity continues to be as much a source of inspiration as of amazement to me!”

Recording courtesy of the composer and the Ulster Orchestra (recorded at the Ulster Hall, 2014)

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