Andrew Ford: Sad Jigs (2005) for string quintet/string orchestra
The title of this piece is actually one of Debussy’s cast-offs: Gigues tristes was the French composer’s original name for the first panel of his orchestral Images, which he ended up calling simply Gigues. Debussy’s piece quotes the Northumbrian song ‘The Keel Row’. My piece fleetingly quotes the Debussy and, just as fleetingly, a couple of fragments from a piece by John Buller. John was my teacher in 1977, and this was also the year of the premiere of Proen ça, his marvellous, long song cycle for mezzo-soprano, electric guitar and orchestra to words by troubadours of the 12 th and 13 th centuries. Buller’s music is hardly known in Australia, but there’s a fine CD recording of Proen ça on NMC, and I can’t imagine money better spent.
John Buller died in 2004 and Sad Jigs is dedicated to his memory. It was commissioned by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for its string fellows to play and it lasts around eight minutes.