We are at a fair in Salford; the time is the late 1930s, and with us is the composer as a small boy, represented in what a Northumbrian piper plays (with percussion accompaniment on the traditional bodhran) in this picture by his later self. We do what you do at the fair? We visit various rides and side-shows: a ghost train and a carousel, a juggler, a bearded lady and a five-legged sheep, of which the last two, Davies recalls, 'were exhibited in a mysterious darkened tent, among other curiosities, where one paid threepence to enter'.
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Cross Lane Fair is an evocation of the Salford fairground of my early childhood in the late nineteen thirties, to which I was taken by my parents. The pipes, with their bodhran accompaniment, represent myself as a four or five year old and the orchestra becomes the fair, with its roundabouts and steam organs and swings. The sections, played without a break, are:
Introduction (pipes and orchestra)
Ghost Trains (pipes and orchestra)
The Bearded Lade and the Five Legged Sheep (pipes and orchestra)
(I remember these exhibits particularly in a tent of such wonders).
The Juggler (orchestra)
The Roundabout (pipes and orchestra)
© Peter Maxwell Davies