Study for `Loulan' by Peter Sheppard Skaerved

Peter Sheppard Skaerved is to perform Nigel’s short unaccompanied violin work `Loulan’ at the British Museum on 23 September in one of four recitals. New sounds have always flooded across musical borders by means of trade  and travel. The first bowed string instruments were brought to  Europe from Asia in the century  before the Renaissance. By the late 17th century, the violin had  anchored itself into the musical practices of both secular and religious  celebrations and observation, from feasting to prayer.  But it must not be forgotten that the  excitement about music is also centred on a particular fascination with the  tools that are used to make music, both as historical objects, objects of  inspiration, and objects of change. The violin is the ultimate example of  this-an extraordinary piece of technology, capable of extraordinary flexibility,  and almost limitless potential for ‘up grades’and alteration. Its function and  meaning have been in more or less constant flux for nearly 500 years. P.S.S.

`Loulan´ is dedicated to Peter Sheppard Skærved, and he made the premiere recording on the Naxos label `Nigel Clarke´ (disc CD8.570429). `Loulan´ was inspired by my visit to the Silk Road City of Urumqi with the violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved in 2002. Urumqi is the regional capital of Xinjiang province in China and only about 150 miles from the Afghanistan border. The city is surrounded by the vast Gobi Desert, is a melting-pot of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern culture which is reflected in the music and dance of the region. `Loulan´ represents the sound-world that I experienced during this visit, fused with my own musical language.

`Loulan´ is based around a Chinese folk tune heard during our visit. In collaboration with Sheppard Skærved I have developed a number of original extended techniques on the violin which help give the work its ethnic feel.


Trade and Travel (23rd  September)
Giuseppe Tartini                       Sonate Piccole (‘through the tempest’s  horror)
Dafina Zaqiri                             Dream
Nigel Clarke                              Loulan/Voices in the Sand
Michael Hersch                        in the Snowy Margins
Mihailo Trandafilovski   Colours/Limits*
Tom Myron                              Merian Etude*
Ian Wilson                                Cartographies
Shen Yi                                    Tajik Dance

The Istrian composer Giuseppe Tartini straddled the east  and west. Best known as an Italian composer, he was born in modern day  Slovenia; his  music never lost the flavour of the Balkan meeting point. Living composers from  the Balkans, Xinjiang,  UK and US, face up to  questions of travel and alienation.

More information for this event to follow shortly.