Four Echoes for solo cello had been taking shape slowly when news came of Douglas Lilburn’s death. For me this had many personal associations; the first New Zealand music I heard was by Douglas Lilburn, and through years at Victoria University and after I came to know him as teacher and supportive professional colleague. His music has always held a special power for me, and as I wrote musical shadows appeared in the work, particularly in the Lament which is specifically in his memory. There is a further personal association; apart from the fact that the ‘cello has always been one of my favourite instruments, Robert Ibell plays on an instrument made by my brother, who also played cello in the Kiwi Pacific recording of Douglas’s String Quartet. One of my aims in composing the work was to make as much use as possible of the natural resonances of the instrument, so I hope this is an adequate tribute both to the instrument and to the composer whose shadow hovers over us all.
Commissioned by Robert Ibell for performance in 2001