John Gordon Armstrong

Canadian Composer


Càol MacAoidh

Càol MacAoidh is a free set of variations on an original theme. It was one of those pieces that in many ways composed itself. I had intended to write something along the lines of a previous piece, Hail, a set of miniatures with varying degrees of complexity and intensity, but as Càol MacAoidh began to unfold, I realized it was something quite different, an atmospheric piece, evocative of Celtic music and landscape. Finding an appropriate title was challenging but I finally settled on Càol MacAoidh; Càol meaning “music” in Gaelic and MacAoidh being the Gaelic spelling of McKay, my mother’s maiden name. My mother, who passed away in June of 2004, loved the harp and loved music that is simple and expressive. Of all the music I have written, this is the piece she would have liked best.

Càol MacAoidh was written for my dear friend Elizabeth Volpé-Bligh, and first performed, brilliantly, by her and Roger Cole on October 12, 2005 in the Recital Hall at the University of British Columbia. The performance below is by Chip Hamann, oboe and Caroline Leonardelli, Harp from the 2010 Ottawa Chamber Music Festival.

Composed in 2005 for Oboe and Harp
Duration: 14 minutes
Advanced Student/Very Accessible
Published: Canadian Music Centre (Toronto)

Càol MacAoidh