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Program note: Richard Charlton's "Fantasies, Fairies & Folktales"

  • program notes by the composer

“Fantasies Fairies & Folktales”

These pieces started life at different times but are all based on traditional folksongs of the British Isles. Greensleeves Processional, Salley Gardens and All Through the Night were part of a set of folksong arrangements written for Timothy Kain; a Vision of Angels was an easy arrangement for a member of the Guitar Society – then later, I added the variation section.

Turlough’s Ghosts was especially composed for Australian guitarist, Alan Banks and was premiered by him at the 2003 “Sonorities Festival” in Belfast. This work is based on the Turlough O’Carolan’s tune “Shee Bheg shee Mhor”. (the fairies of the big hill & the fairies of the little hill) Stories tell of a battle between two rival fairy queens which took place on the plain between the two hills. It is also said that the Irish hero Fionn McCubhal lies buried beneath the “big hill” and a celebrated champion of the opposing party who was killed in the same battle, lies in the centre of “Shee Mhor”.

I was quite impressed by the account of a writer named “Hardiman” in which he concludes: “I climbed up both Shebeg and Shemore and played the tune (O’Carolan’s) on my tin whistle across the valley between. It is a really lovely place and with the fog lying between the two hills you can almost see the ghostly armies rushing across the plain”?

R. Charlton 2003


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