New Zealand Suite for Guitar is Bruce Paine’s first composition for classical guitar. The aim was to create a work with immediate appeal to guitarists and audiences alike, and one that might be considered suitable professional concert repertoire.
Written in the early part of 2007, the three movements of the suite were a response to the composers experience of the beautiful landscape and scenery of New Zealand’s South Island. The first piece Mountain Cascade echoes the movement of mountain streams in particular near Mount Cook, where the water tumbles and bounces over rocks then suddenly calms as it reaches a lake. Rotoiti Twilight conjures up the atmosphere of an evening stroll from the village of St Arnaud in the Nelson Lakes District to the tranquil shores of Lake Rotoiti. The Forest Awakens presents a contrasting morning scene, again on the shores of Rotoiti, where native birds sing passionately and animals stir along the “Bell Bird Walk”.
The intention was for this suite to be easily playable and a possible concert opener that would not be too physically demanding. To an extent this has been achieved but a reasonably high level of proficiency is required to achieve a convincing performance, particularly with the third movement that requires great dexterity and stamina.
Like my piano solo Where the river flows, Otari (2004) for solo harp is inspired by one of my favourite Wellington places, Otari Bush near my home, which is a peaceful soundworld of birdsong, pools of stillness, and ebb and flow of wind and stream. The chorale-like theme that emerges towards the end is based on my Te Puna Waiora (Spring of Living Water).
Overall, Otari is shaped by some words in T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets: " At the still point, there the dance is.."
This work is dedicated to Carolyn Mills, principal harpist for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, whose innovative and enthusiastic collaboration enabled me to explore some extended harp techniques as part of the composing process. In March 2005, Otari was premiered in United States and since then it has received several performances in New Zealand and the United States as well as at three international Harp Festivals – London, San Francisco and Adelaide.
The material in this piece comes from my opera Enchanted Island, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The opening idea is throughout associated with Prospero, and particularly (towards the end of the opera) with his most famous speech, “we are such stuff as dreams are made on”. Perhaps one could imagine Prospero as a magician guitarist, dreaming these variations.
In 2007 Bruce was approached by underwater photographer Colin Gans with the idea of composing a piece for a digital slideshow presentation of images captured in Niue. The stunning underwater images proved to be an excellent catalyst for ideas that would form a new piece entitled Sea Life. The work can be considered a type of tone poem that begins with the image of a diver sitting in a boat and commencing his dive with a “Backward Roll Entry” into the sea. The diver is surrounded by a momentary surge of bubbles and is soon swimming about. Gradually the scene beneath the waves is revealed and signs of life start to appear – small fish darting about, inquisitive grouper fish along with other fascinating and delicately beautiful creatures. Dissonant chords represent a large shark quietly passing by with its fins glinting in reflected sunlight from the surface. Surging arpeggios represent the awe-inspiring sight of a massive school of fish moving rapidly as one powerful entity. Eventually the diver’s underwater experience comes to an end and the final bars of the piece represent the return to the surface and daylight.
Sea Life became the catalyst for a further three pieces; The Whale and the Octopus, Dance of the Walrus and finally Shark Dream and Reprise which rounds off the suite.
Inspired by underwater photography of Colin Gans. Images can be viewed here
This composition for solo classical guitar is a musical tribute to Seringapatam, a town in the Mandya district of the Indian state of Karnataka and place of great religious, cultural and historic significance. The non-anglicised version of the name is Srirangapatna (also spelled Shrirangapattana.)
The music was specially composed by Bruce Paine for his music DVDAlberton (BNPDVD 01) which was inspired by the iconic 1863 homestead Alberton in Auckland New Zealand. The mixture of Scottish and Indian architectural styles of the house and the Kerr Taylor family’s similarly mixed bloodline were the main sources of inspiration for the music. The name Seringapatam was chosen because it was the birth place of the founder of Alberton, Allan Kerr Taylor born in 1832, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel William Taylor of the 39th Madras Native Infantry.
The composer’s intention was to write something that encapsulates both the Scottish and Indian aspects of Alberton, so what transpired was a remarkable marriage of melody and invention. The traditional song ‘The Blue Bells of Scotland’ was transformed by the use of glissandi to gently imitate the tonal nuances and technique of bending notes on a sitar that is such a feature of Indian music.
The classical guitar cannot precisely reproduce the sounds of an instrument such as the sitar however the repeated accompaniment figures in this piece are intended to be suggestive of the drone effect heard when the sitar is played. It is an approximation that works in the context of the guitar’s tonal capabilities.