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Crossing the Border

Crossing the Border

for string ensemble


  • Instrumentation: string ensemble
  • Edition: performance material

 
Description
Music does not easily lend itself to verbal description. However, a vague and general outline of the compositional aims of this piece is worth a shot if it’s of interest or help to the listener.

The string ensemble is divided into four groups of violins (two either side of the conductor), violas, cellos and basses. The music was originally written for pupils in two Scottish High schools and was therefore designed for practicality and intelligibility on the part of the players. Much of the music is repeated or echoed by various sections of the total ensemble ensuring everyone a turn at playing (more or less) the same music. Consequently the use of strict canon over a ground bass is a dominant feature. A canon is a many-voiced composition whereby the first voice (or part) is followed at fixed time intervals by another which imitates it exactly note for note.

In Crossing the Border the first canonic entries are full length quarter notes (crotchets) on open strings starting on the second beat to give the impression of three, rather than four beats per bar. These canons are progressively layered on top of each other in ever-shortening note values and make up the structure of the first half of the work. This increase in the number of notes per bar suggests the music is getting faster. It isn’t - the overall pulse is always the same. Bach’s Chaconne for solo violin has a direct bearing on this process. There, a ground bass anchors progressively increasing rhythmic activity (shorter notes values) which fill out equal length measures.

In Crossing the Border the second half is a vertical reflection of the horizontal process of the first. Simply put - instead of counterpoint, straightforward harmonic presentation of this principle applies. Great stamina is required of the performers as almost everyone plays all the time.

Programmatic music it is not! It’s as abstract as anything by Bach. But that doesn’t rule out energy, passion and emotional content or deny a metaphorical dimension. The title principally refers to the fact that it was written for performers north of the English border. The first performance never happened as planned and I gave the premiere in Poland then Moscow and subsequently in the UK with student musicians. The title also suggests crossing borders of various sorts - social, musical, political and cultural - ideals to make a better world.

Steve Martland 1993
Details
Performance duration: 25'0"
Publisher: Schott Music Ltd., London
Uraufführung : 10. Oktober 1991 Gdańsk (PL) · Dirigent: Steve Martland · Warsaw Academy Symphony Orchestra
Year of composition: 1990-1991
instrumentation: Minimum string strength: 8 (4+4).8 (4+4).4.4.2 (more strings can be used but should be proportioned for overall balance eg. 12-16.12-16.8.8.4-6)
Performances
Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra: Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group
2018-04-17 | Los Angeles, CA (United States of America), Walt Disney Concert Hall — 20:00
Conductor: Edwin Outwater
Orchestra: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
2017-02-03 | Cardiff (United Kingdom), BBC Hoddinott Hall — 19:30
Conductor: Robert Ziegler
Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra
2006-11-24 | London (United Kingdom), Queen Elizabeth Hall — 19.30 h
Conductor: Carlo Boccadoro
Orchestra: Transition Classic Orchestra
2006-10-17 | Torino (Italy), Piccolo Regio | national Premiere
Orchestra: Scottish Ensemble
2006-01-21 | Glasgow (United Kingdom), Centre for Contemporary Arts — 19.15 h
2002-08-23 | Eisenach (Germany), Wartburg
2001-08-24 | Edinburgh (United Kingdom), Dance Base
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra: National Symphony Orchestra
2001-05-17 | Washington, DC (United States of America), Kennedy Centre | national Premiere
2000-08-06 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
2000-08-05 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
2000-08-04 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
2000-08-03 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
1999-10-09 | New Brunswick, NJ (United States of America), New Brunswick State Theater
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1999-09-19 | Warszawa (Poland), Lutoslawski Radio Studio
Orchestra: Kreisler String Orchestra
1999-07-23 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Concertgebouw
1998-06-17 | (Japan)
1998-06-16 | (Japan)
1997-03-22 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-21 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-20 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-08 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-07 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-06 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1996-04-26 | St. Petersburg (Russia), Great Hall
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1996-04-25 | Yekaterinburg (Russia), State Philharmonia
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1996-04-22 | Moscow (Russia), Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts | national Premiere
Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw
Orchestra: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
1995-03-17 | Utrecht (Netherlands), Vredenberg
Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw
Orchestra: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
1995-03-16 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Beurs van Berlage
Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw
Orchestra: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
1995-03-15 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Beurs van Berlage
1995-02-08 | London (United Kingdom), The Place
Conductor: Willard Welsford
1994-09-15 | Leicester (United Kingdom), Queen\'s Hall, University of Leicester
1994-06-25 | London (United Kingdom), Royal Festival Hall
Conductor: Malcolm Layfield
Orchestra: Goldberg Ensemble
1994-01-26 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Orchestra: Oxford University Contemporary Group
1991-11-22 | Oxford (United Kingdom)
Conductor: Steve Martland
Orchestra: Warsaw Academy Symphony Orchestra
1991-10-10 | Gdańsk (Poland) | World Premiere
Sound Clips
Martland · Crossing the Border for string orchestra · sound clip
Music does not easily lend itself to verbal description. However, a vague and general outline of the compositional aims of this piece is worth a shot if it’s of interest or help to the listener.

The string ensemble is divided into four groups of violins (two either side of the conductor), violas, cellos and basses. The music was originally written for pupils in two Scottish High schools and was therefore designed for practicality and intelligibility on the part of the players. Much of the music is repeated or echoed by various sections of the total ensemble ensuring everyone a turn at playing (more or less) the same music. Consequently the use of strict canon over a ground bass is a dominant feature. A canon is a many-voiced composition whereby the first voice (or part) is followed at fixed time intervals by another which imitates it exactly note for note.

In Crossing the Border the first canonic entries are full length quarter notes (crotchets) on open strings starting on the second beat to give the impression of three, rather than four beats per bar. These canons are progressively layered on top of each other in ever-shortening note values and make up the structure of the first half of the work. This increase in the number of notes per bar suggests the music is getting faster. It isn’t - the overall pulse is always the same. Bach’s Chaconne for solo violin has a direct bearing on this process. There, a ground bass anchors progressively increasing rhythmic activity (shorter notes values) which fill out equal length measures.

In Crossing the Border the second half is a vertical reflection of the horizontal process of the first. Simply put - instead of counterpoint, straightforward harmonic presentation of this principle applies. Great stamina is required of the performers as almost everyone plays all the time.

Programmatic music it is not! It’s as abstract as anything by Bach. But that doesn’t rule out energy, passion and emotional content or deny a metaphorical dimension. The title principally refers to the fact that it was written for performers north of the English border. The first performance never happened as planned and I gave the premiere in Poland then Moscow and subsequently in the UK with student musicians. The title also suggests crossing borders of various sorts - social, musical, political and cultural - ideals to make a better world.

Steve Martland 1993
Performance duration: 25'0"
Publisher: Schott Music Ltd., London
Uraufführung : 10. Oktober 1991 Gdańsk (PL) · Dirigent: Steve Martland · Warsaw Academy Symphony Orchestra
Year of composition: 1990-1991
instrumentation: Minimum string strength: 8 (4+4).8 (4+4).4.4.2 (more strings can be used but should be proportioned for overall balance eg. 12-16.12-16.8.8.4-6)
Conductor: Gustavo Dudamel
Orchestra: Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group
2018-04-17 | Los Angeles, CA (United States of America), Walt Disney Concert Hall — 20:00
Conductor: Edwin Outwater
Orchestra: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
2017-02-03 | Cardiff (United Kingdom), BBC Hoddinott Hall — 19:30
Conductor: Robert Ziegler
Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra
2006-11-24 | London (United Kingdom), Queen Elizabeth Hall — 19.30 h
Conductor: Carlo Boccadoro
Orchestra: Transition Classic Orchestra
2006-10-17 | Torino (Italy), Piccolo Regio | national Premiere
Orchestra: Scottish Ensemble
2006-01-21 | Glasgow (United Kingdom), Centre for Contemporary Arts — 19.15 h
2002-08-23 | Eisenach (Germany), Wartburg
2001-08-24 | Edinburgh (United Kingdom), Dance Base
Conductor: Leonard Slatkin
Orchestra: National Symphony Orchestra
2001-05-17 | Washington, DC (United States of America), Kennedy Centre | national Premiere
2000-08-06 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
2000-08-05 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
2000-08-04 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
2000-08-03 | Becket, MA (United States of America)
1999-10-09 | New Brunswick, NJ (United States of America), New Brunswick State Theater
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1999-09-19 | Warszawa (Poland), Lutoslawski Radio Studio
Orchestra: Kreisler String Orchestra
1999-07-23 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Concertgebouw
1998-06-17 | (Japan)
1998-06-16 | (Japan)
1997-03-22 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-21 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-20 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-08 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-07 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
1997-03-06 | Columbus, OH (United States of America), Capitol Theatre
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1996-04-26 | St. Petersburg (Russia), Great Hall
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1996-04-25 | Yekaterinburg (Russia), State Philharmonia
Conductor: Martyn Brabbins
Orchestra: Sinfonia 21
1996-04-22 | Moscow (Russia), Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts | national Premiere
Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw
Orchestra: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
1995-03-17 | Utrecht (Netherlands), Vredenberg
Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw
Orchestra: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
1995-03-16 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Beurs van Berlage
Conductor: Reinbert de Leeuw
Orchestra: Nederlands Philharmonisch Orkest
1995-03-15 | Amsterdam (Netherlands), Beurs van Berlage
1995-02-08 | London (United Kingdom), The Place
Conductor: Willard Welsford
1994-09-15 | Leicester (United Kingdom), Queen\'s Hall, University of Leicester
1994-06-25 | London (United Kingdom), Royal Festival Hall
Conductor: Malcolm Layfield
Orchestra: Goldberg Ensemble
1994-01-26 | Manchester (United Kingdom), Royal Northern College of Music
Orchestra: Oxford University Contemporary Group
1991-11-22 | Oxford (United Kingdom)
Conductor: Steve Martland
Orchestra: Warsaw Academy Symphony Orchestra
1991-10-10 | Gdańsk (Poland) | World Premiere
Martland · Crossing the Border for string orchestra · sound clip
Other Editions