The word Slasp comes from a poem which was
written by children from St Brigid's Primary School in County
Derry. What language does the Sea and the Skimming Stones speak to
each other? They speak stonish, seastone, Estonian....lots of responses
from the children, but the one which stood out was They speak slasp.
Slasp found its genesis in all kinds of other words:
slap, crash, splash, rasp, gasp, slash...visual images began to emerge.
Slasp is a single movement work, divided into six sections of
equal length, each with its own "stone" connection. In The sinking
stone, stuttering brass and long held strings create a world of thickening
texture. Let he that hath no sin cast the first stone uses the
full orchestral palette, where swirling relentless lines eventually settle on
the intense stillness of a high violin note. Wandering aimlessly in
Between a rock and a hard place, low strings rotate under pillars of
wind and brass. In Stoned, the full orchestra embarks on a
relentless rhythmical trip. Hearts turn to stone leads to
Stepping stones, an orchestral fanfare which, in the words of one of
the children, "yells into the future". The piece ends with the earlier
heard intense high violin note.
In 2006 Elaine was a featured composer during the RTÉ Horizons Series where
Slasp was performed by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra,
conducted by Brian MacKay. Later this year a CD of all Elaine’s
orchestral works will be released on the RTÉ lyric fm label featuring the
RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Gavin Maloney, as part of the
Composers of Ireland series.
With Slasp, Elaine was nominated as one of the finalists for
the 2004 British Composers Award, presented by the British Academy of Composers
and Songwriters in association with BBC Radio 3.
Jacqui McIntosh, Journal of Music Ireland:
“In Slasp, language between the sea and skimming stones
is imagined. Agnew makes use of the bass clarinet and vibraphone to
effect...weaving the instruments’ voices through textured layers of
orchestration. Slasp is characterised by stuttering trumpet fanfares and
frenzied rhythmical passages that stop suddenly to reveal held notes in the
upper strings which slide down and disappear to silence.”