McCabe's Concerto for two violins and string orchestra, entitled Les Martinets noirs received a standing ovation at its world première in Arnhem, on October 11th 2003. Commissioned by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, with the aid of funds from the Eduard van Beinum Stichting, the work was also performed by them in Tilburg (where it was recorded for Dutch radio), and the series culminated with two brilliant performances in concerts at the Felix Meritis Hall, Amsterdam.
These performances all took place as part of a splendid festival by the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, which included a musico-dramatic event based around the brothers Theo and Vincent van Gogh, and ended with a concert conducted by Gennadi Rozdestvensky, featuring Britten and Stravinsky. As part of the same festival, a brilliant young string quartet, the Prinse Quartet, also gave a concert which included an outstanding performance of McCabe's String Quartet No. 4, also in Felix Meritis Hall, Amsterdam.
Les Martinets noirs takes its inspiration from the sight, and sounds, of the swifts which in summertime whirl and swoop around the tall trees and chimney pots near his Kentish home. Despite the aptness of the English name for these quickest of birds, the French name was chosen as more euphonic, and perhaps easier to pronounce, than either 'Swifts' or the Dutch name for the bird, 'Gierzwaluw'.