'...from a distant shore...' Robert Saxton

5 mins

Solos, Duos & Trios Solos •• Solo oboe

1 Oboe

Purchasing options

Performing score ISMN 57020-190-7 £7.00 Buy now
Signals (Score) ISMN 57036-215-8 £12.95 Buy now

solo oboe

Programme note

Commissioned by Melinda Maxwell.

The title ...from a distant shore... refers to the description in the biblical book of Exodus of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, and her companions singing, playing and dancing on the shore of the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) as the Israelites escape from Egyptian slavery. It is the first documented song of freedom in Western literature and, uniquely for its time, features woman, as opposed to mythical female figures, as celebrants. Indeed, Miriam is described as a priestess.

When Melinda Maxwell asked me to write her a piece, the idea of a solo oboe conjured up in my mind’s ear the sound of an ancient reed pipe, the biblical imagery following almost immediately. The piece consists of three linked sections, both temporally and in terms of material. The first portrays the woman swaying and intoning on the shore, and gradually moves towards the (central) dance of freedom; at its climax, this is transformed into a sustained and intense melodic line, the music eventually fading away. The piece hopefully illustrates the fact that, although the event depicted took place at least 4000 years ago, it remains a reality.

Melinda Maxwell, Dartington Summer School, August 2001
  • 27 Apr 2015 | 1:00pm | St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, London | Susannah Fairbairn, soprano, Matthew Schelhorn, piano
  • 20 Nov 2010 | 12:00pm |

    Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York


    Melinda Maxwell

  • 15 Jun 2005 |

    Camberwell Arts Week Festival, St Giles' Church, Camberwell, London


    Endymion: Joe Sanders (oboe)

Included in
  • Signals cover


    New British music for solo oboe, aimed at university and conservatoire-level students and professionals.