I wrote Christmas Light for a choir and glockenspiel to celebrate poet Betty McKellar’s 90th birthday. I love the colour and imagery in Betty’s work and the honesty and clarity of her writing.I first discovered her work in the 1990s and set her poem Cramasie Threid for soprano and cello.I then took the poem Sangsters as the starting point for a concerto for orchestra which was premiered by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in 2002.

I have always enjoyed collaborating with non-professional and community groups, which I find stimulating and inspiring. These are musicians for whom music is an absolute pleasure – who give time without payment in the midst of busy lives, often with demanding jobs and family commitments. They do this because they love music and the companionship and buzz of working together. The enthusiasm always communicates to the audience and some of the most memorable performances of my music have been in churches, schools and community halls.

This short piece is a tribute to Betty’s creativity, warmth and optimism.