Shambards

Choreography by: Christopher Wheeldon

Music by: James MacMillan

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Credits

Music
Piano Concerto No. 2
Premiere
May 8, 2004, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater
Original Cast
Carla K├Ârbes, Ask la Cour, Miranda Weese, Jock Soto, Ashley Bouder, Daniel Ulbricht, Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz

Length
28 min.

Piano Concerto No. 2 by James MacMillan was commissioned by New York City Ballet. This plotless ballet for 24 dancers has three movements: "The Beginning," "The Middle," and "The End." It unfolds before an abstract backdrop that shifts in color from deep browns to blood red, suggesting at times dark buildings and a misty, moonlit clearing in a forest. In Scottish composer James MacMillan’s commissioned score, there is a tension between turbulent, dissonant tones and spirited traditional Scottish melodies. At times the two occur together, suggesting redundant uneasiness. Resident Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon borrows movements and gestures from traditional Scottish dance. In the first movement, dancers perform a "sword" dance, with women prone on the floor while men dance over them. Although there are moments of brightness, the ballet’s overall tone is dark. MacMillan’s score was partly inspired by Scottish poet Edwin Muir’s "Scotland 1941," which refers to Robert Burns and Walter Scott as "sham bards of a sham nation." MacMillan dedicated his "Cummock Fair" for piano and strings to Muir. Wheeldon asked the composer to expand this piece into a ballet score. It is the composer’s second piano concerto.