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David Heyes

Mary Rae: New Horizons: Five Pieces for double bass & piano

Mary Rae: New Horizons: Five Pieces for double bass & piano

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About the Compositions

New Horizons is a collection of five colourful and engaging pieces for double bass and piano. Aimed at the intermediate bassist, each piece offers accessible musical and technical challenges exploring a wealth of inventive and evocative sound worlds.

The piano accompaniments create an atmospheric cushion of sound which successfully complements the long and lyrical lines produced by the solo double bass. The edition includes piano accompaniments for both solo and orchestral tunings.

Dream Fragments

The logic of dreams is that there really is none. When we wake we synthesize the remains of our dreams into a cohesive whole, as if something real had happened. In "Dream Fragments," I wanted to capture the moment of recalling elements of a dream, and making them fit together.

For My Cherokee Ancestors

For My Cherokee Ancestors lasts just over four minutes and was written to honour my ancestors who had been so much of a mystery to me. My family always knew that we had Cherokee blood on my mother's side, but only recently was I able to trace our heritage back to Chief Pathkiller, the last ancestral chief of the Cherokees. Only a few years after he died in 1827, the Indian Removal Act, which sent Native Americans to territory west of the Mississippi River, marked an end to the world my ancestors had known. Those last years of that traditional life were in my mind as I wrote this piece.

For My Cherokee Ancestors was premiered at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset, UK) on Sunday 24 February 2013 by David Bossanyi (double bass) and Gus Tredwell (piano).

In This Blank of Things, a Harmony (In Memory of Ruth Gipps)

The title is a line from one of William Wordsworth's earliest poems, "Written in Very Early Youth." Here is an excerpt:

Now, in this blank of things, a harmony, home-felt, and home-created, comes to heal that grief for which the senses still supply fresh food; for only then, when memoryis hushed, am I at rest.

This early poem was a promise of things to come from Wordswoth, just as Ruth Gipps' musical composition as a child was the opening to her long and amazing career as a composer. This piece was written in honor of all that she accomplished.


Legende was written within the first days of a new year, and a new decade, 2020. When I was a child, the year 2020 would have sounded preposterous to me, something more akin to sci-fi films than my own future. Yet, it has arrived, and trailing behind it so many memories, so many beautiful things and some darker ones, which have gained a sort of beauty of their own having been burnished with so much thought. The new year and all its train of old ones, brought me a few notes to begin Legende, and I went on from there. I dedicate this piece to the memory of the great double bassist and teacher, František Pošta.

Short Days Ago We Lived

Short Days Ago We Lived is a line from John McCrae's moving poem 'In Flanders Fields'. A somewhat larger context:

We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Reading McCrae's poem, it is difficult to fully imagine the tragic deaths and since so many of the young men were barely out of childhood and had no children, and would have no grandchildren, no future generations to think of them, this is the only way they can be honoured. To think of them, to remember the terrible loss, is to honour them. This is a simple and evocative piece in D minor lasting just over two minutes.

Short Days Ago We Lived was premiered on 13 June 2014 at St Thomas Church (Mamhead, Exeter) by David Heyes (double bass) and David Haines (piano).

[Programme notes by Mary Rae]

Cover Photo: Sarah Poole

About the Composer

Mary Rae was born in Washington D.C. in 1951 and grew up in Virginia. She studied flute and voice in Boston and, at the same time, received a BA in Spanish Languages and Literature from Boston University. Mary has always been interested in composition and devised for herself a course of self-study. Aside from writing for double bass, she particularly likes writing for voice and piano and her works have been premiered in the United States, Great Britain, and elsewhere.

Mary Rae is currently involved in the revitalization efforts for the Cherokee language, which is severely endangered, as most indigenous languages are. She has studied the language for a number of years and recently achieved teacher certification from the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, something which is rare for second language learners. Mary has been working on writing settings for Cherokee hymns with the aim of uniting two of her great interests.

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