This work for solo piano has been described as “a haunting gem for a modern baby.” (Blanks, Sydney Morning Herald)
“In a simple arch structure of eight bar phrases, it progresses in variations from naive simplicity to what could almost amount to a nightmare in the centre, then back to slumbering innocence once again.” (Bibby, Music in New Zealand)
The composer comments, “Melancholia is a very straightforward little piece and is a meditation on loneliness … I was mindful of the guitar’s intimate qualities which help to convey an introspective mood.” Melancholia was commissioned by Sue Court for a book of ten NZ guitar works, Guitar Aotearoa.
New Zealand lies on one of the most volatile regions of the Earth, the so called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’. This fanfare reminds us of the way in which the cultures of the Pacific have been shaped by powerful and often destructive natural forces. Aucklanders in particular see volcanic hills every day and should know that more will appear as they have in the past albeit at several thousand year intervals.
The music of Vulcan is thus explosive in nature. However the musical material goes beyond its volcanic inspiration and enters a sound world of drama and fantasy.
Vulcan was commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and was completed on 5 February 1999, the composer’s sixtieth birthday.
Y2k Pacemaker is an attempt to reflect some of the increasingly frenzied apprehension associated with the coming millennium, and more specifically, the “year 2000 computer bug”. Whether computer failures will cause a slight inconvenience or be a major disruption to life seems largely a matter for conjecture. However, I find the escalating alarm (sometimes exacerbated by scaremongers) and often ensuing bizarre reactions a fascinating aspect of our psychological makeup. The main idea behind the work is a measured increase in tempo which culminates in some frenetic activity. The musical texture incorporates ordinary scalic movement and has been derived from a simple octatonic scale. (The computer on which I wrote this work is ‘year 2000 compliant’ !) I would like to thank the Auckland Philharmonia for the opportunity to write “Y2k Pacemaker” and have long admired the orchestra’s commitment to New Zealand music.