This tone poem, along with Far Calling, was composed to evoke the Rocky Mountains – as seen from the vantage point of Canmore, Alberta. Far Calling includes parts for mixed voices SATB sung to the sound of ‘Ah’. The works honour Canada’s magnificent beauty and its vast open, unspoiled places – truly a garden of Eden.
Luminous was one of the ‘Century Fanfares’ commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia from ten New Zealand composers in 1998. The composer writes: ‘When I was invited to write a fanfare for the new millennium I inevitably found myself considering the last one thousand years. For me, the single most striking feature of human history during the last millennium has been the increase in travel and the settling in foreign lands of smaller and smaller groups. In the distant past, an entire race of people would slowly traverse one continent. Today, an individual, in the space of a few days, is able to completely uproot from their homeland and settle in a country on the other side of the world. A friend of mine, Pan, moved to New Zealand from China. For her, the pressure to integrate two very different sets of beliefs proved ultimately overwhelming. This work is dedicated to her memory.’
Several of the melodic ideas in Other Echoes are based on New Zealand birdcalls: the first violin is the now extinct huia, the cor anglais is the endangered kokako (also the bassoons and clarinets). Piccolo, trumpet and horns also play native birdcalls The composer believes these specific calls lend themselves particularly well to instrumental or vocal imitation, and has done a similar thing in several works over the years including the Chaos of Delight series.
The Great Harbour of Tara is a tone poem about Wellington. A conductor’s score and fully edited parts are available.
The work starts with atmosphere – waves lapping very gently on Petone beach and the tinkle of sand. The main theme sounds on the french horn then the music builds and eventually a reference is made to the old whaling days followed by a storm (a characteristic of Cook Strait – the infamous ‘southerly’) building to hurricane force strength. The storm also alludes to the sinking of the Wahine (a Cook Strait ferry) in the ‘60s. An elegy for strings follows in honour of the victims of that disaster. The mood gradually changes to calm acceptance and on to an optimistic view of Wellington’s future, a big, full tutti . The work closes with the atmosphere of sand, surf and evening.