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Scoring & Instrumentation
Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Violin, Cello, Piano, and Percussion
Alternate Title


Year Authored (or revised)
Duration (min)
I. Origins
II. Constructions
III. & IV. Celebrations
V. Journeys
VI. Reflections
VII. Tranquility

Files & Media

[Karchin] Ancient Scenes - II. Constructions.mp3
Audio file
[Karchin] Ancient Scenes - III. Celebration (excerpt).mp3
Audio file
[Karchin] Ancient Scenes - V. Journeys.mp3
Audio file
Sample Pages




Composer's Note:

There were several sources of inspiration for Ancient Scenes, and it is a more programmatic work than most others I have written. One obvious influence was the beautiful poetry of the late Seamus Heaney, Ireland's Nobel Prize-winning poet. The second was a visit to the ancient town of Auvillar, France, where I was invited to spend a week as composer-in-residence at the Etchings Festival in 2010. The town had an ancient market area dating back to Roman times, and also had been (and is still today) a stopping-off point for pilgrims en-route to a sacred shrine in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. I envisioned the development of such a town in its early stages. The instrumental movements (I Origins, II Constructions, V Journeys: Pilgrims, Prayer, Conflicts, Reconciliations) suggest a chronological trajectory. The songs (II, III, VI, and VII) are stops along the way. The first poem takes its cue from the sound of a crowd echoing through an ancient coliseum; the second accompanies a dance (sounding more Irish than French to my ear) that might have been performed as festive entertainment. The third song is a reflection on the fragility of the human condition, and the last paints a portrait of a still harbor shimmering in the light.


“This was the most purely contemporary piece of the evening. It’s challenging, yet attractive in the best modern sense.  There’s a real urgency and sense of forward motion to the instrumental movements, presented superbly, as usual, by this fine ensemble.”

(Performance by the Da Capo Chamber Players.)
- James Grant, SoundWordSight Arts Magazine


“These words and these sensations—if we allowed it—reached another level of our consciousness. The splendid lyric soprano, Marisa Karchin, was confident, dramatic when needed, and most important--articulated with diaphanous clarity.” 

- Harry Rolnick,


Percussion list: Vibraphone, Glockenspiel, 4 Timpani, 3 Suspended Cymbals, 2 Sizzle Cymbals, 2 Large Tam-tams, 1 Medium Tam-tam (to place on Timpani), 2 Triangles, Maraca, 5 Temple Blocks, Bass Drum, & Rain Stick (optional)

First Perfomance
The Washington Square Ensemble with Sharon Harms, soprano and Louis Karchin, conductor; Tenri Cultural Institute, NYC, April 12, 2014


Text Language - Non English


Text Source/Author
Seamus Heaney
The Rain Stick, Lightenings i, iv, Settings xxiv, Used by permission of Faber & Faber, London
Title Number
Ensemble Type
solo voice(s)+2 to 6 instruments
Pierrot or Pierrot+


Purchase Options
PDF License & Download
PDF Price
Print & Ship
$132.00 score + 6 parts: ACA-KARC-015
$78.00 score only: ACA-KARC-015s
Two scores needed for performance set.