Hymn of the Highlands

Hymn of the Highlands was commissioned by David King and the Yorkshire Building Society Band for first performance at the 2002 European Brass Band Championships Gala Concert in Brussels.

David King’s imaginative programming had already led to the writing of three such ‘concept’ pieces for brass band – Cry of the Celts, Voice of the Vikings and Windows of the World. The idea was to produce an extended and themed piece, which can act as a half concert to feature a band’s soloists. We decided on a Scottish theme but didn’t use any folk songs.

The entire suite in its brass band version comprises seven movements, all named after locations in the Scottish Highlands. Not all of these were considered suitable for transcription for concert band, so the composer has created Suite from Hymn of the Highlands, which comprises 3 movements: Ardross Castle, Alladale (featuring a saxophone trio) and Dundonnell. The Sword Dance, Strathcarron, and Summer Isles (Euphonium Solo) are also available separately for concert band and can be added to the Suite to form a four- or five-movement work.

Ardross Castle, (named after a small village near Ardross in Easter Ross, just north of the Cromarty Firth) starts with solos from clarinet and bassoon (or euphonium) before the bagpipe tune is introduced. A faster central section uses the opening material in a different guise but the movement ends slowly.

Alladale, (the river Alladale is a tributary of the Carron, which leads out into the Dornoch Firth on the east coast) is a saxophone trio with an accompaniment featuring the percussion. This leads to the finale, Dundonnell, (named after a charming village at the head of Little Loch Broom which leads out to the ocean near Summer Isles) which starts in martial mood but soon breaks out into a wild presto. Eventually the bagpipe tune from the first movement returns before the presto crashes to a close.

Available concert band editions:- 

AMP 047          Suite from Hymn of the Highlands  (Ardross Castle, Alladale and Dundonnell)

AMP 048            Summer Isles - Euphnium Solo

    Summer Isles  is named after a small group of islands off the north-west coast of Scotland, famous for their wildlife

AMP 050          Strathcarron – Sword Dance 

    Strathcarron, a sword dance for the whole band which alternates slow and fast tempi. Strathcarron village is at the head of Loch Carron, near the Isle of Skye.