Aria with Commentary was inspired by walking through the streets of Florence in 2008 and overhearing a wonderful and spontaneous everyday mixture of singing, conversation and argument going on between various people who live there. So in this piece one cello presents a cantilena line while the other offers comments on it, and ripostes.
Written in response to Bartok’s ‘44 Violin Duos’(1931) which were based on traditional East European melodies. Bartok was concerned that such tunes would become extinct and wanted to preserve them. ‘Birds Reply’ is also intended as an educational resource although the pieces are original compositions with Celtic, English, Balkan and Klezmer influences. On this recording Chris Prosser plays both violin parts.
A short tribute to John Rimmer for his 60th birthday, scored for two cellos. A very compressed and active piece focusing on microscopic modifications of pitch and timbre. Based on a spectral analysis of John Rimmer’s name. Premiered in Auckland by Coral Bognuda and Tom Pierard.
‘Duo’ is a set of variations on the twisting melody introduced by the violin at the beginning. A short ricochet motif soon appears, completely unexpectedly, disrupting the flow of the music. This interjection returns over and over, spurring the work on into the allegro section where it infects the melody and appears as the repeated note motif. Gradually the music accelerates until the new motif is almost as fast as the original ricochet. At this point the ricochet is revealed in its original form and the piece shudders to a grinding halt. ‘Duo’ is the second piece Harris has written for Rolf and Helena, following Wayleggo which was given to them by the composer as a wedding present.
On Tuesday morning 8th May 2007 David Farquhar died, having recently celebrated his 79th birthday. David was one of my composition teachers when I was a student at Victoria University, and we remained in friendly contact from then on. He was a fastidious composer, and a person of integrity, generosity and humanity. I learned of his passing a few hours after his death, and was moved to write a short musical tribute to him that night. Since David’s Equali for two cellos were already programmed for an Okta concert in the University of Waikato’s Gallagher Concert Chamber three days later, I utilised the same forces. Farewell is based on the notes D, A, F – David’s initials. The first performance was given by James Tennant and Ros Hill on Friday 11th May 2007. Farewell David, we salute you.
The onomatopoeic word "flttttt” has its origins in the ancient Meidup language of Miunkelsneimistan, and it denotes an impaired yet frustrating fly. I first came across the word in a six-thousand-year-old sound recording which I uncovered on an archaeological dig in Miunkelsneimistan in late 2004. Despite the magnitude of this discovery, I withheld the recording from the wider academic community until I had a chance to transcribe it for two string players. The release of the recording was timed to coincide with my transcription’s premiere performance, given by Johnny Chang (violin) and Jessica Catron (cello) in the University of Auckland Music Theatre, on 10 March 2006.
I humbly acknowledge The Microscore Project for commissioning the archaeological dig. Dub dub dub dot myspace dot com slash theMicroscoreProject.
I had conceived the ideas for Moth long before it was written down on paper, having been kept awake on many occasions during the summer nights by the sounds of these fluttering insects. The sounds were fragmented by intervals of long silence, but they came so suddenly even the heaviest of sleepers would be irritated.
Moths are beautiful and eerie nocturnal creatures; they use a celestial navigation system which keeps them flying in a straight line, but however are unable to resist bright objects nearby.
In Moth, by using two violins, I have juxtaposed the serene attraction of the bright light, with the nervous and agitated behaviour of a single moth. Placing the violin parts closely together – both striving for a common goal, yet always in conflict with each other – I have attempted to portray the struggle of the poor creature who is forever trying to reach the moon.