(An Gé Fhián)

for symphonic winds & percussion

*2017 "Hiroshima" Version is Available (see below)

The Celtic people who occupied the British Isles around 1,600 years ago were a people who shared a deep connection with nature and the world they found themselves in. Around this time Christianity found its way to this land and these ancients would often draw on their surroundings for symbolism. In the Celtic tradition the Holy Spirit is represented as a bird, but not as the delicate and peaceful dove found in other cultures, but as An Gé Fhiáin. The Wild Goose.

Like a wild goose, they perceived the Sprit of God as wild and untamed. Geese are loud, raucous, and strong. Their honk is challenging, piercing, unnerving. They are uncontrollable, dicult if not impossible to catch, and their actions cannot be anticipated (thus the phrase “wild goose chase”). These ancient people absorbed spirituality then not as something that you captured, or something that you bent to your will. It was a pursuit, an adventure that you chased after. Their faith was one that was free and unpredictable.

Juxtaposed against the chaos of the Goose chase these ancients also had a phrase for those places where the distance between earth and the spiritual realm collapses. Locales where we are able to catch hints and glimpses of the transcendent and where the divine seems to speak the clearest. They called these destinations “thin places”.

In writing this piece I was intrigued by these two impressions: the wild and rambunctious Goose that calls us on an adventurous chase, and the tranquil, reverent thin places that the Goose leads us to. These two thoughts intertwine, sometimes gracefully and other times forcefully. The piece is written in the free-form of a fantasy overture and is built around a 5-note motif that variates throughout the allegro sections. A simple chordal hymn first stated by the horns provides the basis for the adagio segments. The Goose, represented by an antiphonally staged solo english horn, shows up at various points in the work as both the boisterous motivator and the soothing counselor. Music influences coming from the Celtic traditions are faint early on in the piece but transition to the forefront towards the end as the emulated sounds of bagpipes, penny whistles, and Irish drumming transform the 5-note figure into a reel and jig.

AN GÉ FHIÁIN (The Wild Goose) was commissioned by Robert W. Clark as a gift to Dr. Barry K. Knezek in honor of his passion for and devotion to the Lone Star Wind Orchestra. The work was premiered by the same group January of 2014.

*In December of 2017 the Hiroshima Wind Orchestra premiered a revised version of this piece. This revision was done to accommodate this professional ensemble's specific instrumentation for their performance at the 2017 Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Because this version is orchestrated for a typical wind ensemble (winds + timpani + 5 percussion) I have decided to make it available, as it opens the piece up to groups who may not have the personnel needed to perform the original 2014 version. 

The specific changes made to the 2017 version are as follows...

  • The harp and piano parts were removed and their parts re-orchestrated into the percussion.
  • The spatial bass drum feature was removed  (this was necessary to keep the percussion to 5-players)
  • The 2nd oboe now doubles the english horn solo (so only 2 oboe players are necessary). 
  • Minor wind edits

*when ordering please specify 2014 or 2017 version

Parts | Site License: 250

Score: 75