Compositions and Commissions


Adrian Finnerty is an experienced composer and arranger whose work covers a wide spectrum including orchestral, choral, educational, musicals, piano solo and film.  He is willing to accept composition or arranging projects, from short jingles or songs to full-scale orchestral or choral works.



For further information contact:


Compositions include; Griminish Point, Conveyance and Saltire Sinfonietta (orchestral), Lay of the Last Minstrel, Balulalow, The Fastest Man On Earth and Pattern of Life (choral), Fanfare Academica and Unseen Vision (chamber), Stereo-Stereo, Strata Shift and Night Lift-off (electro-acoustic), High-Rise Hallowe’en and Rawley’s Patch (musicals), Contretemps and Kaprun (piano) and various settings of liturgical texts.


Lay of the Last Minstrel was commissioned by the Milngavie Choir, with financial assistance from East Dunbartonshire Arts Council.


It was premiered in a concert celebrating Scottish composers; featuring the work of John Maxwell Geddes, Eddie McGuire, James MacMillan and Hamish MacCunn.


Based on a text by Sir Walter Scott, this old Border narrative is full of phrases which have passed into our language.  The text includes phrases such as “Breathes there a man with soul so dead”, “By Yarrow's streams still let me stray, Though none should guide my feeble way” and “O Caledonia! stern and, wild, Meet nurse for a poetic child!  Land of brown heath and shaggy wood, Land of the mountain and the flood”.





Balulalow, for mixed voices, is a choral setting of Luther’s Christmas Carol.


The use of modal elements in the melody, and some unexpected harmonies, makes this an attractive choral miniature.


Strata Shift, Moonlight, Gold Circuit, Night Lift-off and Stereo-Stereo are a series of short electronic pieces, composed in 1989, based on the paintings of Glasgow Artist Ken Palmer.  They formed part of an exhibition called Interaction, at the Step Gallery, Edinburgh, for the Festival of Science and Technology.


Further information about Interaction, as well as images of Ken Palmer’s paintings and recordings of the music can be found on Ken Palmer’s website.  Simply click on Ken Palmer’s picture (on the right) for further information.

To hear examples of the music simply click on the appropriate image below.  The links will take you to the appropriate pages on Ken Palmer’s website, where you can see the paintings and listen to the music.


Night Lift-off

Night Liftoff III Digital Painting



Moonlight Digital_en

Gold Circuit

89 Gold Circuit I en

Strata Shift

Strata Shift Digital



89 Stereo Stereo Acrylic on Board Wheatstone Viewer


Saltire Sinfonietta is an orchestral work taking its title from the St. Andrew’s cross and its inspiration from elements of Scottish history.  It was commissioned by the Bearsden and Milngavie Youth Orchestra, who gave the work its first performance.


Composed for the new millennium, in the shadow of the new Scottish Parliament, the piece follows an overall “classical” structure in three movements (fast – slow – fast) and contains many Scottish references, mainly in the shape of modal and pentatonic melodies within a contemporary and direct harmonic language.


The first movement, Enlightenment, refers both to the 18th century philosophical movement, stressing the importance of reason, and to the broader concept of developing and learning. This is suggested by the various musical themes and motifs, which are developed and combined throughout the movement.




The second movement, Lament For A Fading Dream, is an expression of regret for any losses and disappointments. The minor pentatonic melody over a lilting waltz accompaniment gives the movement a distinct Scottish flavour.


The third movement, Yet Still The Blood Is Strong, takes its title from the final chapter of Scotland’s Story by Tom Steel, and is a celebration of achievement and hope for the future. The fast, jig-like, rondo brings the work to an exuberant close.





Conveyance, for chamber orchestra, is a single movement work based on the idea of continuous movement and development.


Scored for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, piano and Strings, the piece is very similar in orchestration to Copland’s Appalachian Spring.



Griminish Point is a one- movement work for symphony orchestra, taking its title from an area to the North West of North Uist, in the Outer Hebrides.


While the piece is not intended to be overtly programmatic, it is intended to capture some aspects of the character of the location.


The use of open 5ths, and free pandiatonic harmony hints at the openness and sparseness of the landscape, while the modal content in some of the melodic lines has connotations of Celtic psalm tunes.



The Fastest Man On Earth, with a text by James Reilly, is the first part of a projected trilogy, The Body In The Twentieth Century; each part exploring the extent to which some individuals will go in pursuit of their own personal excellence.



Scored for tenor solo, mixed chorus and orchestra, The Fastest Man On Earth is about the 100-metre sprint at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.


The legendary athlete Ben Johnson set a new world record for this event but was immediately deprived of his gold medal for having taken banned substances in preparation for the Games.


First we have the race and then we have the action replay, when events do not run according to expectations. The contest is observed by a narrator (tenor solo) who should really be regarded as a commentator.



Holy, Holy is from a congregational Mass, most of which was composed during ‘lockdown’ in 2020.


Parts of the Mass, as well as psalm settings, have been published in several different arrangements, for congregational use, with and without descants, and for full mixed voice choir.


Links to audio examples of all the movements can be found below.




Holy, Holy

Memorial Acclamation 1 We proclaim your Death

Memorial Acclamation 2 When we eat this bread

Memorial Acclamation 3 Save us, Saviour of the world

Lamb of God






High-Rise Hallowe’en is one of two musicals written to a libretto by the Scottish writer Evelyn Hood.


This is a one-act musical for children containing a number of attractive songs in “jazzy” and “popular” styles. It has been performed quite widely by schools and youth groups both in Scotland and in America.



Fanfare Academica was composed for the inauguration of St. Andrew’s College of Education, Bearsden, in 1981.





Contretemps, for solo piano, is an early work in one movement.


It explores the contrasts between motion and stasis, and owes much of its rhythmic features and harmonic language to influences of Bartok and Jazz.


This web page is still under development.

Information about other works will be added in due course.


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To find out more about Adrian Finnerty just click on Personal Profile


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