Athabasca – PDF Parts (digital delivery)


The stunning Athabasca Glacier, in the Columbia Icefield in the Canadian Rockies, provided the inspiration for this work. After having visited the Glacier in 2016, I knew that it would find a place in my music – the sheer magnitude of it was stunning, the visual was breath-taking, and the rate at which it is receding (5 meters per year) completely devastating.

Now sadly collapsed, beneath the Glacier there were great, expansive ice caves – thankfully they were photographed by explorers, and it is these photos that provided the inspiration for the work; an imaginary walk through these fragile, beautiful structures; what music would sound like in them, what talking would sound like in them; and what moments of listening would sound like in them.

When writing the piece I also wanted to try and acknowledge the diminishing nature of the Glacier. Whilst not being something you can visibly notice by simply observing for a short time, it is still happening in front of very eyes. This is represented by the tempos in the piece – almost doubling from the original tempo to the fastest tempo of the work (around 2/3rds of the way through), and – hopefully – almost imperceptibly.

When commissioned by Ray Baril and the Edmonton Winds to write a new work for them, the Alberta connection between the group and the Glacier was impossible to resist.

Peter Meechan 2018