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Behind the Music

Ibert's Escales

APO's Rowan Newton looks into the story behind one of her favourite works by French composer Jacques Ibert, Escales. Have a read and then listen to this masterpiece below!

One of the most powerful, almost magical aspects of music is its ability to transport us.

We may be safe in our bubbles, but our minds are free to wander the world, and music is an excellent vehicle for that! One glorious example of this magic is Jacques Ibert’s Escales (Ports of Call).

This piece was written as a musical tour of the Mediterranean, following the composer’s own travels in the area as a naval officer in World War I. Ibert’s compositions often have a flair for the theatrical (perhaps a reflection of his early ambitions to be an actor) and this piece is no exception.

The three distinct movements, named for the ports they represent, are lush, evocative and playful. The first movement, Rome – Palerme sails down the length of the Italian coast through sparkling seas to pull in at the bustling city of Palermo, a journey flavoured by the rich and varied regions of the Italian countryside.

The second movement, Tunis – Nefta, takes us through the top of North Africa with its distinct rhythmic patterns and a long, hypnotic oboe solo, which stretches the full range of the instrument and provides a daunting musical challenge.

The final movement, Valencia, brings us into the Spanish port in a lively, whirling dance full of orchestral colour, a fitting tribute to the vibrant city. Use the links below to take your own musical journey in the footsteps of the French composer, and spend an afternoon travelling through the Mediterranean. You’ll be home for tea.

Rowan Newton is the APO Business Partnerships & Events Executive and can usually be found working with sponsors and organising corporate hosting events. She also plays the clarinet in her spare time and is passionate about music and the arts.

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