Friday, 21 November 2014

Megantic Quartet No. 1 in A Minor


Dots, lines and scratches on paper with articles made of wood, string and metal. That is all they shall remain without the performer to induce sound and provide interpretation.


I   Moderato – 88 dotted quarter notes per minute
II  Allegretto – 88 quarter notes per minute
III Allegro ma cantabile  – 120 quarter notes per minute
III Adagio  – 40 dotted quarter notes per minute



Work on the A Minor Megantic Quartet commenced in July 1997 and was completed about a year later in July 1998.

My desire had long been to compose a string quartet. To this end, a few feeble attempts were made about twenty-five years ago, however, those were quickly placed aside. Twenty-five years ago I would have been content to simply try and imitate the Classical era, but who would have wanted to listen to a garbage-poor attempt at rehash?

The assistance of technology has now enabled me to pick up a few remnants and continue to completion some of the musical ideas that have percolated in my thoughts for the last quarter century. The passing years have provided me with different perspectives about life and about music. Today I am free to go in any musical direction and within this particular work I can claim to have accomplished that freedom; the freedom to use and shape the sonata form to express my own musical ideas and ultimately, to praise the God of Israel.

The Megantic highlands are located in Quebec adjacent to northwestern Maine and New Hampshire. That southeastern corner of Quebec was settled by Hebridean Scots who were forcibly driven out and exiled from the Isle of Lewis in the northern Hebrides of Scotland. Most of those displaced and unwanted Gaelic-speaking highlanders settled in that area of Quebec with little or nothing, but many came with a deep and profound faith in God.

Life in the Megantic highlands has had a strong and profound influence that will always remain with me. My life-long love of music was awakened in my grandparent’s home, hearing and listening to my grandmother play the piano and practice hymns for the Sunday worship service.

I am of the last generation to have heard maternal and paternal grandparents of the Megantic highlands area speak in their native tongue Gaelic; to have heard the old-timers speak first hand of the hardships they and their parents experienced when they arrived in Quebec; to have been able to join those seniors in worshipping God in the native tongue of our ancestors. 

Those people of old have gone but the truth of God remains, having been passed on from generation to generation as desired and ordained by God.

The Bible tells us:

“There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow”
Ecclesiastes 1:11

God’s word is true. What I can remember of the Megantic highland’s men of old shall die with me, and no one shall be left to have heard and to remember.


The Oddblock Station Agent
Written in summer 1998

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