The initial musical thoughts for Symphony III came from two related sources of inspiration – the paintings of Marc Chagall and Klezmer music. I had been playing accordion in a klezmer band in Wellington for a year or so before starting the work. I was intrigued by the genre and began writing klezmer influenced tunes for the band to play.
The simple klezmer tunes are woven into the piece in different ways. Some of them are treated as symphonic themes that are developed and transformed while others are quoted as melodies from popular music. There are passing references to dances, marches, and the use of solo violin and the novel appearance of accordion make reference to folk-like musical ideas inspired by klezmer.
Symphony No. 3 is in one movement divided into five sections generally alternating between slow and fast music. Sometimes the music is very transparent and simple at other times dense web-like textures emerge.
Symphony III can be heard as a unfolding journey, following paths whose destination is uncertain or unknown. It might almost be thought of as a saga, a story which is sometimes mysterious, sometimes funny, sometimes tragic but, I hope, always stimulating to the listener’s imagination.