The Far North Land:
Passages for String Quartet
and for Clarinet Quartet, Clarinet Choir or Flute Quartet
Duration: 3 minutes
Awarded Honorable Mention by Imagine Music Publishing
in both the 2010 Pathways Contest (String Orchestra) and the 2010 Fusion Contest (Band)
The OdeonQuartet: The Far North Land The Far North Land: Passages for String Quartet
The Utopia Winds: The Far North Land The Far North Land: Passages for Clarinet Quartet
The Far North Land for Clarinet Choir has been a resounding success for the Thornbury Clarinet Choir, both at its 2013 Christmas Concert and at the Clarinet Convention held at Cardiff University in May 2014.
—Tony Fleming, Thornbury Clarinet Choir
My father enjoyed singing, particularly when the family went on road trips. One of our favorite songs that he sang was "The Far North Land." The text of the song is below. Several years ago, my sister recorded our father singing this song for use on the soundtrack of one of her movies. I recently transcribed the song from that recording and used it as the foundation for this piece. My aunts tell me they recall my father singing this song when he was a boy growing up in Minnesota, and that they referred to it as "Fletch's song." It was only while working on this piece that I discovered that Duncan, Clear Water and Bear Skin are actual lakes in the border lakes region where Minnesota meets Canada. I have since learned that the tune is known in the U.K. as "The Road to the Isles," a Scottish tune.
The Far North Land is dedicated to my sister, Gail Bartholomew Gilbert.
The original version of this piece, a setting for six violas, was selected for performance at the 30th International Viola Congress in June 2002. The setting for string quartet was premiered by the OdeonQuartet at Seattle's Town Hall on October 21, 2003, as part of the Sound Currents series of concerts co-sponsored by the Washington Composers Forum and the Seattle Composers Alliance. The odeonquartet's performance was broadcast live around the world on the internet and the radio on Classic KING 98.1 FM on October 20, 2003.
The Far North Land
It's the Far North Land that's a-calling me away,
By Lake Duncan and Clear Water to the Bear Skin I will go,