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.
The title Anxome is a contraction of the word “manxome”, from the phrase in Lewis Carroll’s The Jabberwocky: “long time his manxome foe he sought”. The piece is descriptive of a state of mind: at times anxious and shy, but also playful and cheeky. It was premiered in The Committee’s ‘Lightshift’ concert. Andrew Uren performed it from a high balcony, behind the audience, who were in the dark.
Lyell Cresswell describes his work Ara Kopikopiko, which takes its title from the Maori word for Labyrinth, as a concerto for orchestra in which the instruments and ideas are treated as tesserae in a mosaic, assembled to catch the light at different angles. At its premiere the work was introduced by the composer and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
The title Cirrus is taken from the first stanza of James K. Baxter’s poem, High Country Weather (1948).
Alone we are born
And die alone
Yet see the red-gold cirrus
Over snow mountain shine
Upon the upland road
Ride easy stranger
Surrender to the sky
Your heart of anger
What appealed was the depiction of individual endeavour, the expansive backdrop of New Zealand rural imagery and the poem’s final plea. Despite the foreboding beginning, metaphorically the ‘red-gold cirrus’ foretell of a change for the better. Cirrus are beautiful high transparent clouds typically streaming in the direction of the wind, usually signalling the arrival of fair weather. As a child growing up in rural New Zealand I used to often lie on the ground and gaze skyward, observing these clouds.
The opening of the piece employs high-pitched bell-like chords. While the upper and lower strings hold a sustained note, a bass clarinet introduces the first significant melodic theme. After the first full-orchestral climax the texture of the climax quickly dissipates to reveal a high-pitched modal melody. The brass abruptly interrupts this moment of quiet with an augmentation of the previous theme. After this interruption subsides the character of the music gradually becomes more uplifting and confident. Then solo instruments perform themes over a lively syncopated chromatic pizzicato bass line and variations of the original theme repeat, driving the music forward to reach the final climax. The piece ends with a final recapitulation of the high modal melody and arpeggiated echoes of the opening bell-like chords in the tuned percussion.