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Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens Ultramarine
Ian Stephens Ultramarine

for brass quintet

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Product Name Price Qty
Ultramarine - score
Ultramarine - score (download)
Ultramarine - score and parts
Ultramarine - score and parts (download)

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Ultramarine is a rich shade of dark blue that was highly valued in the early Renaissance. From the Latin ultramarinus, its name means 'beyond the sea' for a very literal reason: it was imported into Europe by sea from Asia. The source of ultramarine is the mineral lapis lazuli, mined from a single source in what is now the north-east of Afghanistan, and more expensive than gold. From the 12th century, the robes of the Virgin Mary were often painted with ultramarine.

In Ultramarine I explore the journey of this blue from its source to its final use. At the heart of the piece is a series of widely-spaced four-part chords, each of which contains an element of symmetry. To my mind these chords represent the colour blue, trapped deep in rock. The two ensuing melodies - based on an ancient Afghan tune and a Persian dance tune - signify the journey to the west. A rhapsodic section, with the music moving from a single line to a richly textured activity and back again, signifies the transformation from rock to pigment. The 'Maria' music, first heard on the horn, is a collection of four settings of the word 'Maria' from Gregorian chant. The four 'Maria' melodies intertwine, and blend with the blue chords and the Afghan tune.

Additional Information

ISMN 9790570680375
Composer Ian Stephens
Year of Composition 2012
Instrumentation Horn in F, 2 Trumpets in Bb, Trombone, Tuba
Duration 11'
Student Difficulty Intermediate - Advanced

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