Drostan's Calendar

First Aberdeen peformance of music by Haworth Hodgkinson inspired by the Book of Deer

Saturday 3 September 2022 • 7.30pm
Mannofield Church • Great Western Road • ABERDEEN • AB10 6UZ

The Book of Deer
The Book of Deer

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Haworth Hodgkinson: Drostan's Calendar (2015, revised 2022)
First Aberdeen performance and first performance of the revised version


Haworth Hodgkinson (keyboard and fixed media)
Mandy Macdonald (keyboard)
Colin Edwards (keyboard)

Drostan Shore in Spring
Drostan Shore in Spring

The ensemble Intuitive Music Aberdeen is pleased to present the first Aberdeen performance of a work for keyboards and environmental sound by Haworth Hodgkinson, inspired by the Book of Deer, a manuscript associated with Central Buchan, normally kept in Cambridge but visiting Aberdeen this year.

Drostan Shore in Summer
Drostan Shore in Summer

According to accounts in the Book of Deer and the Aberdeen Breviary, Drostan accompanied Columba when he sailed from Ireland to Scotland in about 563 AD. They landed at Aberdour Beach on the Aberdeenshire coast and established a monastery in Buchan at a bend in the River Ugie. Archaeologists are uncertain of the exact location of this monastery, but it is believed to lie somewhere in the vicinity of Old Deer, perhaps on the site of the more recent Deer Abbey, or within what is now Aden Country Park.

Columba returned to Iona, but Drostan remained in the North-East, and his name is associated with various sites in Aberdeenshire and Angus. The Pictish symbol stone at St Vigeans known as the Drosten Stone, unusual in bearing an inscription in Roman script, "drosten ipeuoret ettfor cus", may refer to the same person. Drostan ended his days as a hermit in Glen Esk, and after his death his relics were taken back to Aberdour.

Haworth Hodgkinson's piece Drostan's Calendar was completed in 2015 and revised in 2022, but its origins go much further back. Aberdour Beach, also known as the Drostan Shore, has long held a fascination for the composer. After some preliminary recordings in 1999, he visited the Drostan Shore at monthly intervals during 2004, making recordings of the waves breaking on the pebble beach. These twelve recordings of the sea in its seasonal moods became the basis of Drostan's Calendar, with live players adding gentle layers of intuitive music that become gradually more complex as the months proceed.

Drostan's Calendar involved three keyboards, played in an improvisatory manner within a pre-ordained structure. The sonic backdrop to the piece was a recording of the sound of waves and seabirds in successive months of the year. Melodic motifs were interwoven over this background, with the musical texture, sparse to begin with, becoming more intricate in the middle of the piece, representing the summer months. The use of different modes conveyed a range of moods from serene to tragic, and at times hinted at danger and menace. I found myself speculating on what Drostan's thoughts and feelings might have been on arriving in this beautiful but, to him, alien place.

– Liz Knowles reviewing a performance of Drostan's Calendar at Leith Hall, 2019

Playing the first few sections of this piece – the months January to March – induces a calm, Zen-like stillness, as very few notes are played against the ebb and flow of the natural sounds behind the live performance. As the piece progresses, its complexity gradually builds up and new notes offer the player greater opportunities to invent tiny melodic fragments. It's exhilarating when we produce unplanned harmonies or interesting discords, or when a new section brings the notes into a new relation with the insistent A sharp / B flat, which runs like a backbone through the work. These moments can send the performance off into new and unexpected harmonic – and emotional – territory.

– Mandy Macdonald on performing Drostan's Calendar


Mannofield Church • Great Western Road • ABERDEEN • AB10 6UZ

This event is promoted by Intuitive Music Aberdeen in association with Mannofield Church.


Mannofield Church
Haworth Hodgkinson
Book of Deer Project

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