Cruithne

Chamber concerto for flute and large ensemble

Instrumentation fl solo/ob/cl(bcl)/bsn; hn/tpt/ten.trb/tba; 1 perc; harp; strings 11111
Percussion requirements chimes, vib, glock, timbales, brake dr, snare dr, bass dr, tamtam

Timing ca. 19’30”

Composed 2004

Commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts

World Premiere January 21, 2005, Roundhouse, Vancouver, British Columbia. Camille Churchfield, flute; members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Alain Trudel, conductor

Programme Notes

The name Cruithne (pronounced “Croo-een-ya”) has a Celtic origin — the Cruithne were the first Celtic racial/tribal group to migrate to the British Isles from the European continent, between 800 and 500 B.C.. Centuries later, astronomers gave the name Cruithne to Near-Earth Asteroid 3753, which, unlike most asteroids, actually shares the Earth’s orbit, and is considered to be a companion of our own planet. Relative to the Sun, Cruithne takes (logically) one Earth year to complete one orbit, but Cruithne’s path is quite a bit more complicated relative to our own vantage point, as we also orbit the Sun.

From the perspective of an observer on Earth, Cruithne appears to travel in a series of small spirals within a large horseshoe-shaped orbit, taking 770 years to complete the entire cycle. Though Cruithne does pass close by the Earth, the two will never actually collide, because just as it gets closer, the perfectly-balanced interaction of the Earth’s gravity and Cruithne’s speed cause the two bodies to move apart again. It is as though Cruithne and the Earth are inextricably locked in an intricate celestial dance of attraction.

This one-movement concerto draws its inspiration from this dance. It is in three large sections, slow-fast-slow. The solo flute, as Cruithne, first appears in the distance, slowly emerging with small spirals of sound. The orchestra, with is larger mass and gravitational attraction, gradually draws the flute towards it. As their interaction becomes more complex, the dance takes a turn as music becomes an energetic Celtic-influenced jig. At the climax, the two repel away from each other, with the flute spiralling out of control in a frantic cadenza. In the final slow section, their interaction gradually unravels, as Cruithne finally takes its leave, and continues on its inevitable way.

Cruithne was commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Bramwell Tovey, music director) as part of my tenure as Composer-in-Residence (funded with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts). The solo was written for, and premiered by, Camille Churchfield, to whom I express my gratitude for her suggestions, advice, and beautiful playing.

PDF score excerpts

Cruithne excerpt   Cruithne flute solo excerpt

Audio excerpts

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Score $66 print, $40 PDF
Solo part $12 print, $7 PDF
Ensemble parts $105.50 print, $63 PDF
Score + parts also available on rental
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