Elaine’s Dark Hedges receives ‘amazing response’ at The Proms

Composer Elaine Agnew and her mother Jean with Larne Mayor Gerardine Mulvenna (Elaine's cousin and Jean's niece) during a visit to the Parlour. Elaine's "Dark Hedges" is to be premiered at the BBC Proms in the Albert Hall, London, on Saturday August 4 and will be performed by James Galway and the combined Ulster Orchestra and Ulster Youth Orchestra. INLT 31-380-PR

Composer Elaine Agnew and her mother Jean with Larne Mayor Gerardine Mulvenna (Elaine's cousin and Jean's niece) during a visit to the Parlour. Elaine's "Dark Hedges" is to be premiered at the BBC Proms in the Albert Hall, London, on Saturday August 4 and will be performed by James Galway and the combined Ulster Orchestra and Ulster Youth Orchestra. INLT 31-380-PR

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LARNE Mayor Gerardine Mulvenna has spoken of her immense pride at being part of the Royal Albert Hall audience on Saturday when her cousin Elaine Agnew’s latest work was premiered at the BBC Proms.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Councillor Mulvenna. “It was fabulous for Elaine and it really puts Larne and Co Antrim on the map.”

Kilwaughter-born composer Elaine had the privilege of having her latest piece, Dark Hedges, was presented by Sir James Galway with the Ulster Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Orchestra.

The piece - for double orchestra and solo flute - was inspired by the ancient avenue of 300-year-old beech trees near Armoy.

“Co Antrim was mentioned so many times, it was unbelievable,” said the Mayor. “Elaine’s piece got an amazing response and she was brought back on stage over and over again. It was all very emotional.

“It was lovely for Elaine’s mum. Jean, and some other family members to be there to be part of it all. It was just fantastic,” she said.

During the performance of Dark Hedges, the performers were positioned on the main stage and in the area, with a clear separation between the wind, percussion and brass sections.

The Proms programme explains that Elaine’s inspirational piece explores the textural shades of light and dark and changes of focus from a large sound-world to a solitary sound.

“Cast in a single movement, it is divided into three continuous sections. The opening pizzicato strings sit wihtin isolated percussive sounds and an interruption by stuttering brass ignites strong thythmical gstures and irregular pulses. An orchestral fanfare is suddenly hushed as the opening material returns,” the programme reads.

“The middle section begins with solo flute, followe by the Ulster Youth Orchestra’s perucssionists and harpists producing flickers of sound that seem to emerge from nowhere. These improvised short cadenzas highlight the stillness of the Dark Hedges, where a mysterious ghost, known as the Grey Lady, is said to weave her way silently along the roadside, vanishing as she glides past the last tree.”