‘Beginnings’ was commissioned by Auckland Philharmonia. It was inspired by the birth of Ritchie’s son Tristan. It depicts the slowly mounting tension of the labour, through to the birth itself. There is a gradual growth in the music from small, delicate gestures into wild and pulsating ones towards the end. The child is represented by a ‘little Tristan waltz’ which eventually gets caught up in the musical frenzy. The waltz sequence imposes order on the music, which tends to be fragmentary and changeable. There are some echoes of Bartok and Debussy in this early work, and it presents a good challenge for a professional orchestra.
This work was written before and after a visit to Colyton, where a cousin of the composer has a farm, and whose daughter was playing ’cello in the orchestra at the time. He intended the work to reflect the rural open spaces that provide welcome relief for a city-dweller.
In Spring 1987 I wrote the original version of this Fantasia for orchestra using as a starting point some of the rhythmic materials from part of my Cello Symphony. A solitary tui call (using pitches I’ve never since heard from this inventive bird) had provided some of the initial inspiration; here this is heard about nine minutes into the piece in parallel woodwind chords together with tubular bells with many anticipations and echoes throughout. The repeated E characteristic of the ritornelli could also be related to frequent tui calls, though used in a free and energetic manner far removed from the usual character of the bird. The ‘rhymes’ of the title refers to the constant similarities in the sonic echoes throughout the piece: constant change but with many recurring figures. The recent revisions have been mainly corrections and minor additions and alterations carried out in the process of typesetting.
An orchestral work which grew out of an earlier version for chamber orchestra, which in turn evolved from part of the wind octet Kaleidoscope. Overall it is an extrovert piece. A popular programming choice with youth orchestras it has been toured overseas by both Auckland and Christchurch Youth Orchestras.