This set of pieces follows on from two previous works written for groups of students at New Plymouth Boys’ High School (occasionally joined by students from the city’s Girls’ High School). The previous works were Undercurrent (2008) and Kristallnacht (2009). In each case the works were tailored to a specific group of students, for performance in the national chamber music competition.
Imagined Dances is a set of four pieces using traditional dance forms. The first is the slow and stately sarabands from the Baroque period. This dance form has a tendency to accentuate the second beat of the bar, and in this sarabande there is a constant shift from major to minor and back again. The second dance is Argentina’s tango – a seductive and sensual dance with its distinctive accompaniment rhythm heard first in the guitar. The third dance is a fast waltz, although in the middle the energy slackens off a little for a while before resuming its hectic pace through to the last bar.
The final piece of the set is titled Mexicana and doesn’t use any specific dance form, but does use rhythms typical of Mexican folk music and dances, especially the huapango with tis mix of duple and triple rhythms. It is lively and repetitive piece which dashes to the end of the cycle at top speed.
Imagined Dances was written for, and is dedicated to, Jocelyn Beath who retired as Head of Music at New Plymouth Boys’ High School at the end of 2009.
This composition is based on a Chinese poem by Wang We (701-761), who was one of the most admired Tang Dynasty poets and painters. Many of his works take a Buddist perspective, and reflect his focus on Zen practice. He is able to combine love of nature with the philosophy of life. Su Shi (1037-1101), a Chinese litterateur and artist once said, “The quality of Wang Wei’s poems can be summed as, the poems each hold a painting within them. In observing Wang Wei’s paintings you can see that, within the painting there is poetry.”
- take existing quartet (2010)
- delete guitar and cello parts
- rearrange and pare down surviving flute and clarinet parts
- add bass trombone part
- I’ve been interested in continuous recontextualisation of materials (transformed or unchanged) within single works for some time now; if I rip entire chunks from an existing piece and use them to build something else, to what extent is the resulting work new, and to what extent is it related? – and can this relatedness even be detected? Furthermore, is composing in my usual mode as dependent on such high levels of compositional struggle as I had previously held it to be?
- but primarily: this is the first work written since the arrival of my son about a year ago; time for composition remains limited and rapid solutions must be found
TRIOSONATA for flute, viola, and harp is a four-movement work which combines polytonality and classical music structures with the following “non-western” melodies in the following movements : (i) “Aš pasejau linelius” (transcribed from the compact disc, Lituanie – le pays des chansons, Ocora-Radio France); “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” (James Bland); (ii) Menuet melody by Antonio Sacchini; (ii) theme from the second movement of the “Emperor” string quartet by Joseph Haydn; and (iv) “Shto mi e Milo” – a traditional Macedonian folk melody.
seen was written as music for dance in collaboration with choreographer Justyna Janiszewska. It explores the boundary between what is seen and unseen, know and unknown, heard and unheard. The music for this piece is built upon ideas influenced by gamelan music, mainly the idea of building a rhythmic texture up from the one rhythmic line layered on to of itself at different speeds. Each section explores a different aspect of the relationship between these different layers. However, this rhythmic framework itself is never fully exposed, and so itself remains unheard while it exerts an influence on the piece from a distance.