The overall conception of the piece is underpinned by an evolving, wave-like movement – continuous cycles stretching/compressing/proliferating. There is a strong connection to the sea, as in [… and…11], composed in 2002. A passacaglia of seven chords, gradually permutating until they eventually assemble into reverse order, form the ground or ‘canvas’. The various textural and linear surfaces of the piece all emerge from this ground as reflections, extensions, compressions, or distillations of the core material. Quarter-tones (division of the chromatic scale into 24 tones instead of the usual 12) enrich and intensify the harmony while rendering it more tactile and less pitch-defined.
“The 7-minute a gentle infinity…is both atmospheric and deft in Ker’s handling of a large orchestra, subtly dynamic (not least in the use of percussion), edgily communicative, and vibrant in its imagery; a piece full of good things, arguably cut off prematurely. Conducted by Pavel Kotla, the LSO once again suggested that Ker (in attendance) is a composer to watch out for.”
A message to Han Cho (the Yangzhou magistrate) for orchestra was inspired by the Chinese poem, A message to Han Cho by Du Mu (803-852AD, China) in the Chinese Tang dynasty. In this poem Du Mu expresses the sadness of the magistrate yearned for the day to return to his distant love. This orchestral work contains musical ideas influenced by the Eastern culture and utilising Western orchestration to imitate the sound of Chinese instruments (Chinese zither and vertical bamboo flute) to purposely maintain the cultural connection with the original tenor of the poem. To achieve this synthesis I experimented with the pronunciation of the poem in Mandarin, and then compose the melodic lines to suit the four-line poem which became the theme of the music. The image of a fair lady plays the flute under the moon on the Twenty-Four Bridges is a traditional Chinese painting specially selected for this particular poem.
青山隱隱水迢迢, From mist the green hills emerge and afar the river flows,
秋盡江南草木凋. grass still grows in Jiangnan, yet the end of fall is close.
二十四橋明月夜, Over the Twenty-Four Bridges the bright moon glows,
玉人何處教吹簫. where the fair lady teaches the flute no one knows.
A Musical Party was commissioned by the New Zealand Accordion Association (NZAA) to commemorate their 30th anniversary in June 2001. The weekend and Musical Party was dedicated to Silvio De Pra, honouring him for his outstanding contribution to the accordion in New Zealand. He has chaired the Accordion Examination Board of NZ Inc. since its inception in 1972 and been chief examiner since 1992.
A Musical Party was premiered by a massed accordion orchestra and conducted by the composer, Gary Daverne. It was later revised and arranged for solo accordion and symphony orchestra, which is the version that appears here.
Afterword commissioned by the University of Auckland Orchestra and inspired by the history of Anti-Chinese riot in Indonesia. The Tubular bells imitated the bells in the Indonesia temple. The soft dynamics, diminished triads and minor tonality were used to depicting the sense of fear, anger and sadness. The intensive triplets created a sense of uncertainty about the future and feeling of hopelessness as the ethnic Chinese lost their freedom, peace and equality of human rights.
‘Alegria’ is an education piece for children of primary school age. It focuses on aspects of rhythm and ostinato, and it is based on the flamenco principle of 3+3+2+2+2 (12 beat cycle). Flamenco music is based on Spanish gypsy music, and is often accompanied by clapping, so there are clapping parts included for members of the orchestra. The audience may learn the simple clapping patterns so they can accompany the orchestra when they hear the patterns. The central section in 5/8 is intended as an asymmetrical contrast to the duple and triple meters of the outer sections. “Alegria” means ‘joy’ or ‘happiness’ in Spanish.
Anxiety is a common psychological disorder in modern society. It is a state of uneasiness or tension caused by over-worrying about a possible future problem or danger. Ecstasy here implies a state of exalted delight, joy, and then, gradually moves to a more extreme emotion.
A person experiences various feelings every day. However, some people have to overcome certain psychological difficulties, such as phobia or anxiety. This piece reflects two aspects of feelings, anxiety and ecstasy, which are unique in humans. One maybe we are trying to avoid, while another one, we are trying to pursue. Some people may have already experienced both of these two states in real life. Others may have just suffered anxiety but never have made the journey into the euphoria of ecstasy. It is interesting to notice that if these two feelings are persistent or triggered by certain events, they both can lead to intense emotions, such as Anxiety Attack and an ecstasy of rage.