While there is no strict programme to the piece, I like to think there are programmatic elements within it: namely contrasts of fast and slow, loud and soft, surprise and predictability, tension and relaxation, vigour and repose. In addition, the piece explores the relationship between two wind instruments – the bass clarinet and the human voice – through both dissonant and consonant relationships, including unisons, octave unisons and one note being a partial of the other’s fundamental.
Fantasy was written for the composer’s Honours-level Composition folio and for Anna McGregor’s third-year bass clarinet Performance recital at The University of Auckland. It was first performed at the Douglas Lilburn Trust Competition Prize Concert, on 12 October 2007 at The University of Auckland Music Theatre, where the composer won First Prize in the General Composition category, and the performer won the Performer’s Prize.
Acknowledgement goes to Andrew Uren, Eve de Castro-Robinson and Ros Dunlop for their invaluable assistance in the development of this piece.
This piece uses the image of a bird lost in a city, frantically trying to find a way out of the concrete that has engulfed its natural habitat. It is a political statement about the way that New Zealand is becoming this concrete jungle: individual greed and a lack of long term vision allow high intensity farming practices to destroy our rivers, and transitory councils allow increasing urban expansion to eat away at more and more of our natural land.
Flight was originally for solo flute and has been adapted by the composer especially for Anna McGregor; it is one of a number of his works that she has premiered. Although some of the lightness of the flute version is lost, the clarity and edge of the Eb Clarinet sound intensifies the frenetic elements of the piece.
This is a traditional Celtic lament to the deaths of James IV, many of his nobles, and over 10,000 men – the titular “Flowers of the Forest” – at the Battle of Flodden Field in northern England in 1513, a significant event in the history of Scotland. The original composer is unknown.
These days the tune is widely incorporated into funerals and memorial services, hence my being requested to transcribe, arrange and perform this version for the funeral of my beloved grandmother in September 2012.