The Last Meeting

Alasdair Nicolson (1961)

The Last Meeting 1995

2(picc).2(ca).2(bcl).0 - 2200 - timp. 2 perc - harp - strings
Genre 

The Last Meeting was written in 1995 as part of a series of commissions by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra which brought another art form into the concert hall. In the case of this piece, its original performance included choreographer and dancer Laurie Booth who danced amid the musicians.

This work takes as its starting point the Orpheus legend and in particular the final moments of the story where Orpheus thinks he is leading his dear Euridice out of the underworld with the instruction that he must not look back. But, in his anxiety, he breaks the agreement and turns to see if Euridice is still there. In doing this, promise broken, she disappears and is lost forever. The structure musically follows a very simple form: the calm re-uniting with Euridice gives way to the turbulent journey out of darkness and dissipates as Orpheus turns and realises that this was the last meeting with Euridice.

Because of the inclusion of a dancer in the original performance, the idea of staging became an important consideration and began to inform the composition as I thought about creating a dramatic arena for the dancer and a physical representation of the drama itself. The orchestra is divided spatially with the strings separated into two groups forming an arena space and also representing the River Styx which Orpheus crosses to get to the Underworld. At the centre of the stage is a small group of horns and harp with the Orpheus music.

Performances 
8.12.95 City Halls, Glasgow: Laurie Booth (dancer)/Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Ivor Bolton
2
Flute
2nd doubling piccolo
2
Oboe
2nd doubling cor anglais
2
Clarinet
2nd doubling bass clarinet
2
Horn
2
Trumpet
1
Timpani
2
Percussion
1
Harp
(Esc)