Angus MacRae shares new single Through Shadows

Angus MacRae shares new single Through Shadows


An epic yet meditative piece for 6 grand pianos takes ambient piano music to the next level


Through Shadows by Angus MacRae is the latest release from Cognitive Shift Recordings, a contemporary classical label and a collaboration between One Little Indian and Manners McDade (Roger Goula). The transcendent piece was commissioned by the Barbican and is written for 6 grand pianos. It was given its world premiere on March 29th, the 2017 global Piano Day in a celebration for hundreds of piano lovers at London’s Barbican Centre, in partnership with Spotify, performed by the 12-handed ensemble Piano Circus, alongside music by Terry Riley, Nils Frahm and Steve Reich. This studio version is played by Angus through 6 layered performances, at Retreat Studios in Brighton, mastered by Alchemy studios.

Composer and musician Angus MacRae explains the writing process of this epic piece: “The starting point for Through Shadows was to treat it as a kind of ongoing dialogue between the 6 pianos, where motifs are shared and developed between different instruments, and each piano constantly switches role between leading the music and providing accompaniment.

“Structurally, the piece begins with a simple, questioning motif that is then shared and developed between all the pianos. In these opening stages I wanted just a hint of variation between the parts – like each piano is proposing an alternate direction for the music to go, but all unsure of the ultimate course. The idea is that in performance the melodic ideas are constantly moving in the space and each player is taking it in turn to ‘grab hold’ of the music and drive it forwards.

“The challenges of writing the piece were considerable, and because grand pianos are such a powerful instrument, the main difficulty was teasing out and giving focus to melodies when all the pianos are playing simultaneously. I was constantly needing to evaluate which instruments were leading the melody and which were providing accompaniment at any given moment.

“When writing the piece I was often struck by the feeling that whilst the individual piano parts are often made up of very simple building blocks, altogether they create a piece that is far richer and more detailed than its component parts, and often the effect of the whole is very different to the individual. Ultimately I hope the piece is exciting to experience in the space – at times bold and powerful and at others very understated – almost meditative.”

Angus MacRae is a 28-year-old London-based composer and musician, writing for film, theatre, solo piano and ensembles. His recent film credits include The Listener (Edinburgh International Film Festival) and Interlude (winner of the Sci-Fi London 48-hour Film Challenge), as well as theatre and Dance work for Trafalgar Studios, National Theatre Studio and Meeting – a finalist in the Copenhagen International Choreography Competition. He is currently collaborating with celebrated ensemble Insa Donja Kai, and releasing an album later this year with 1631 Recordings/ Decca Records.


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Angus MacRae shares new single Through Shadows