Elaine Agnew


Type of Work: Orchestra
Instrumentation: String orchestra
Length: 4 minutes
Commissioned by: Irish Chamber Orchestra
Premiere: 17 July 2002, St Flanan’s Church, Killaloe.
Irish Chamber Orchestra
Recording: Irish Chamber Orchestra ‘Night Moves’ (ICO label)


For the Aldeburgh Festival in 1953, Benjamin Britten commissioned a set of variations on an Elizabethan theme ‘Sellingers Round’ from five composers:  Lennox Berkeley, Arthur Oldham, Humphrey Searle, Michael Tippett, William Walton and Britten himself.  Using a similar approach for the 2002 Killaloe Music festival, the Irish Chamber Orchestra commissioned 5 Irish composers to work on a multi-movement piece using the W.B. Yeats poem ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ as their inspiration.

The Moon was commissioned as the fourth movement and is a quiet nocturnal evocation of the inner thoughts of wandering Aengus.  His sense of loneliness and grief is captured in this brief impression for string orchestra which features long fading tremolos, haunting unison lines and delicate chordal passages.

Michael Dervan, Irish Times:

“The finest playing (Irish Chamber Orchestra) came in Elaine Agnew’s The Moon, a response to W.B Yates’s The Song of Wandering Aengus.  Agnew’s atmospheric piece is built of what are made to seem like freely wandering lines, captured in delicate hues and half-tones.  The orchestra made the most of the opportunity to explore a quiet realm...”


Performed by:
Irish Chamber Orchestra