‘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.
Ancient Rhythms was written during my year as Composer in Residence with the Manukau City Symphony Orchestra. It was inspired by the poem The Journey by Tessa Stephens, and contains the following instructions within the score – “Misterioso, agitato, misterioso, suddenly confident, suddenly whimsical, molto delicato/misterioso, capriciously, more thoughtful, misterioso, uneasily, capricious again, a manic race to the end”.
Time passes. Sun slides west. The tide fills in many footprints as The voyaging canoes of a new age come and go. Ebb and flow still lures Poaka the stilt over the isthmus. Nightly his cry sounds from Tamaki to Manukau, Though softer now, Muffled by the roar of new imperatives.
Dusk comes. Light dims.
A criss-cross of black seal and concrete blocks Grips the land. Weary workers inch home, Coloured beads on a black-tarred chain, fragmented, Captives in their glass privacy, Jarred by stop-go of brake-light And sense of loss.
For beneath the wheels of commerce And the grind of gears, Beneath the tinsel talk and varied hues, The mixing and matching, toing and froing, Scream of siren and choking exhaust, Beneath all this, Ancient rhythms still vibrate in the memory.
This work borrows ideas from the Cook Islands where I spent 6 months in 1988. I studied the traditional music and instruments and have been greatly influenced ever since. arc of the sun is in three sections (dawn/day/dusk) featuring some Cook Island musical ideas and characteristics – a fusion of their exciting instrumental drum dance and vibrant polyphonic vocal music.
As a work for wind orchestra, arc of the sun was first performed in 1997.
you miss swimming in electric lights
between your fingers, the sound of running water
things you had forgotten, left behind:
the chair legs you forgot to felt
the ink-black shirt for every occasion.
the perfect sentence continues to elude you
between is both a musical exploration of acoustic spaces, and also a conversation between past and present, an interaction between my own compositional practice and that of a musical ancestor, the great New Zealand composer Anthony Watson (1933-1973). The shared musical material, from Watson’s Prelude and Allegro (1960) provides the platform on which this conversation takes place, encompassing musical worlds both lyrical and angular, grand and intimate. The poem above is my own.
2200;timp,perc;strs with optional additional parts for a third flute, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns in F, 2 trumpets in B-flat and 2 trombones. Percussion requirements: 2 timpani (25", 28") triangle, suspended cymbal, tambourine, cymbals, optional bass drum if pedal timpani unavailable