When Silencio Ensemble asked me to write this piece, it was suggested that I write something inspired by or relevant to Canterbury – one possibility being a piece inspired by the landscape. In a funny kind of way, Mad Cow-Farmer’s Disease is inspired by the landscape – going to a Canterbury river and seeing the signs that say “Do Not Swim” or another where cows are loose in the riverbed and cow shit is all over the place.
It is inspired by dry riverbeds surrounded by farms with pumps constantly irrigating the land – the premise being that any ounce of water that makes it to the sea is wasted. These same farmers, self-titled “environmentalists,” use hypothetical science to justify their wanton destruction of the natural environment.
Commissioned by Silencio Ensemble, Christchurch for the Canterbury Composers 2008 series