The Celtic

Dave Heath (1956)

The Celtic 1994

violin and string orchestra

When Clio Gould asked me to write a violin concerto as my second piece for the Ensemble two things came together which gave me the idea for the work. First of all, Clio is a player of great purity of style and technical prowess: secondly, I had become increasingly influenced by traditional and modern Scottish folk music, in particular Aly Bain and Capercaillie. What I like most about Celtic music is its rhythm and purity of expression so these two things came together to make The Celtic.

The Celtic is in three movements, Ceilidh, Lament for Collessie, The Cooper of Clapham, each with its own story.

Ceilidh is intended to reflect a lone figure appearing over the top of one of the Scottish Glens and seeing in the distance through the twilight mist, the glow of a light in the window of a distant inn. Approaching, then opening the door, it is supposed to capture the spirit of a ceilidh going on inside, (a Scottish barn dance) as it gets wilder and wilder as everyone gets intoxicated on the "atmosphere".

During autumn of 1994 my family and I had to move back to London and I really missed the small village of Collessie in Fife, where we had lived for a year and where we had made many close friends. The opening and closing figure of this movement, using ponticelli in the upper strings over a drone bass, is reminiscent of distant bagpipes. The Lament for Collessie is a slow movement which expresses my sense of loss at leaving this environment and these friends.

In 1994 one of the great craftsmen of the century, Mr. Albert Cooper, was 70. Albert Cooper, in my opinion, makes the best flutes in the world, and I wanted to write a piece to celebrate his 70th. Living in Cupar, Fife, I decided to base the piece on an early version of a popular local song - the Wee Cooper of Fife - which became The Cooper of Clapham. Happy birthday, Albert!

Dave Heath


Version for soprano saxophone and strings also available

1994: Clio Gould / Scottish Ensemble