Ian Wilson (Ireland) began composing while studying at a university. He has written nearly one hundred works, including chamber operas, concertos, string quartets, a range of orchestral and chamber music and multi-media pieces. His compositions have been performed and broadcast on six continents, and presented at festivals including the BBC Proms, Venice Biennale, Frankfurt Bookfair, ISCM World Music Days, the Brighton, Cheltenham and Bath festivals and at venues such as New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Royal Albert and Wigmore Halls, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Vienna’s Musikverein and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. As well as continuing to write in the usual classical genres, Wilson has in recent years also worked with jazz musicians, Asian tablas and Chinese pipa players and traditional Irish singers. He has also collaborated with choreographers, theatre directors and electroacoustic and computer music composers.
In 1991, Running, Thinking, Finding received the composition prize at the Ultima Festival in Oslo, and in 1992 he received the Macaulay Fellowship administered by the Arts Council of Ireland. In 1998 he was elected to Aosdána, Ireland’s state-sponsored body of creative artists and in recent years he has been a AHRB Research Fellow at the University of Ulster, Composer-in-Association with California’s Camerata Pacifica ensemble and An Foras Feasa post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Dundalk Institute of Technology in Ireland. He has been director of the Sligo New Music Festival since 2003. There are commercially-available recordings of almost forty of Wilson’s works on labels including Diatribe, Riverrun, Black Box, Timbre, Guild, Meridian and Chandos. His music is published by Ricordi (London) and Universal Edition.
Across a clear blue sky (2009)
The piece was inspired by Seamus Heaney’s poem Horace and the Thunder, written after the 11th September 2001 attacks.
In the past I have set some of Heaney’s work to music for singers but this is the first time I have taken the opportunity to respond to one of his poems in a purely instrumental way. The freedom that came with this approach brought a sense of adventure to the writing process which I hope is mirrored in the piece itself. Heaney has an ability to always respond to diverse aspects of the human experience with insight and dignity, and I have attempted to underpin the dark and aggressive elements in this piece of music with a sanguinity that I hope will acknowledge the poet’s influence on it.