The poem is a reflection of the transient nature of love and life. The gamelan, being an intergral part of a traditional which sees life as cyclic, maybe offers a balance. I have endeavoured to express this polarity by using traditional materials in non-traditional ways.
In the isolated settlement of Ahipara in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand a tiny white church sits on a hillock looking out to a range of low brooding hills. In the cemetery below, an angel stands on a pedestal at the head of a grave. One day in 1992 renowned New Zealand photographer Robin Morrison came to the church and captured the essence of the angel’s vigil in a memorable and famous image.
In late 1997 the composer Chris Blake travelled to Ahipara and stook in the same place and experiences the same image. The outcome was a short work for string orchestra which captures the hope and desolation of the angel and the memory of the soul over which she stands guard. The work was created for conductor Andrew Sewell and is based, at his suggestion, on a passage from an earlier work We All Fall Down for obliggato cello and orchestra.
This work is one of a series of four, making up The Northland Panels. They were written and premiered as separate works.
This work was commissioned by The Southern Consort of Voices in 1991, with funding from Creative NZ. It sets three NZ poems to music, with a fourth song being wordless: Timepiece to a poem by Cilla McQueen; Before the Fall to a poem by Rachel McAlpine; I lie, I watch the ceiling (wordless); and We could just disappear to a poem by Sam Hunt.
In 2001 Auckland choir Viva Voce recorded this work on their CD entitled Snapshots – A Cappella Choral Favourites. Conductor John Rosser writes of the work – “Anthony has a wonderful knack of writing for voice. Timepiece portrays a woman struggling to break free of suburban neurosis and the tyranny of time. Before the Fall alludes to lost childhood innocence, and We Could just Disappear depicts the future as an endless tunnel of the mind.”