… here in hiding …
was written in 1993 and is dedicated to MacMillan’s twins Aidan and Clare, who were born on 10 June that year. He recalls writing the piece with one or other of them strapped to his chest. ‘I would try to calm them and then snatch a few more bars of the piece at my desk before they would erupt again.’ Hardly the easiest time for a composer, making the serene end result even more remarkable. It was commissioned by The Hilliard Ensemble and premiered in Glasgow in August 1993. The scoring represents the constitution of the Hilliards, one countertenor, two tenors and a baritone. The Latin text is by St Thomas Aquinas, the hymn Adoro te devote
. But MacMillan chooses to incorporate Gerard Manley Hopkins’s translation into the setting and thereby ‘jumbling’, as he puts it, the Latin with the English. He also notes that: ‘The different texts are sometimes combined, sometimes fragmented or intercut to form new relationships and a new order of progression.’ The work was written immediately after MacMillan’s Trumpet Concerto and he has written that ‘both pieces explore similar musical and theological territory … the mystery of the Eucharist.’
This work is an example of MacMillan allowing himself free rein, stylistically, knowing that he was writing for professionals. The music is correspondingly complex. The plainsong chant Adore te devote is magically woven into the structure (as it is in the Trumpet Concerto). The piece is episodic and uses the voices in imaginative combinations to create a richly diverse range of textures. A beautiful tenor solo midway is followed by warmly expressive music and a highly effective fade-out at the end.
from notes by Paul Spicer © 2011