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Hoata was written in 1979, while I was composer-in-residence for Northern Arts and a Fellow of Newcastle University, for the Northern Sinfonia, who, conducted by David Haslam, gave the first performance during the Newcastle Festival later that year. I wrote the piece, named for the Māori phase of the moon when the new moon is barely apparent, while I was living on the Northumbrian moors north of Hexham. It was a cold winter, and the snow around the small remote cottage, which was not well insulated, lay around for four months as blizzard followed blizzard, and something of the isolation and the environment seems to have got into the piece. Hoata consists of sections built up in a mosaic-like manner, separated by freer sections, which may be cadenzas, or have a degree of improvisation; there is at times perhaps a suggestion of birdsong.
19 Aug 2007: Gillian Whitehead Portrait