How to buy

979-0-57020-190-7 '...from a distant shore...' – Performing score Available at MusicRoom Buy now (£7.95)
979-0-57036-215-8 Signals – Score Available at MusicRoom Buy now (£12.95)


Part of the Signals collection

New British music for solo oboe, aimed at university and conservatoire-level students and professionals.
Find out about the collection

Commissioned by Melinda Maxwell.

The title ...from a distant shore... refers to the description in the biblical book of Exodus of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, and her companions singing, playing and dancing on the shore of the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) as the Israelites escape from Egyptian slavery. It is the first documented song of freedom in Western literature and, uniquely for its time, features woman, as opposed to mythical female figures, as celebrants. Indeed, Miriam is described as a priestess.

When Melinda Maxwell asked me to write her a piece, the idea of a solo oboe conjured up in my mind’s ear the sound of an ancient reed pipe, the biblical imagery following almost immediately. The piece consists of three linked sections, both temporally and in terms of material. The first portrays the woman swaying and intoning on the shore, and gradually moves towards the (central) dance of freedom; at its climax, this is transformed into a sustained and intense melodic line, the music eventually fading away. The piece hopefully illustrates the fact that, although the event depicted took place at least 4000 years ago, it remains a reality.


5 minutes

Melinda Maxwell, Dartington Summer School, August 2001

1 Oboe
Composition date


27 April 2015 St Margaret’s Church, Westminster Abbey, London Susannah Fairbairn, soprano, Matthew Schelhorn, piano
20 November 2010

Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York

Melinda Maxwell

15 June 2005

Camberwell Arts Week Festival, St Giles' Church, Camberwell, London

Endymion: Joe Sanders (oboe)