The Baht ’At Variations address one very important question: what was that bloke doing on Ilkley Moor in the cold without a hat? Having spent many hours walking, fell running and climbing on Ilkey Moor I can assure you that a hat is a vital piece of kit for keeping body and soul together and preventing you becoming food for the worms, the ducks and ultimately your mates.
It was Ian McMillan's idea to dig into the backstory of the song On Ilkla Mooar baht ’at and to imagine what happened between its cautious but sincere protagonist and the wild and fun-loving Mary Jane. It was a collaborative exploration I relished.
The music reflects the story’s journey, moving from a cold, sparse moorland to the warm, impassioned call of love, with recklessly driven rhythms and moments of tender reflection. It is ‘northern’ music without descending to pastiche or a tongue-in-cheek snigger at a Yorkshire stereotype. This is music inspired by the natural lilt and timings of the Yorkshire dialect in which Ian writes and which has surrounded me all my life.
The Baht ’At Variations explore those real human emotions that regularly motivate behaviour which to the outsider often seem ridiculous. I think we can all relate to that.
- Ben Crick, composer & conductor