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Undertow at Oakura

for orchestra

Year:  1988   ·  Duration:  30m
Instrumentation:  3*2*2*2; 4231; timp., 3 perc.; strings | (Perc: sn.dr, bs.dr, susp. cymbal, vib., crash cymbals, clash cymbals, triangle, finger cymbals, bass drum, glock., xylo.)

Year:  1988
Duration:  30m
Instrumentation  3*2*2*2; 4231; timp., 3 per...

Hugh Dixon

Composer:   Hugh Dixon


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While living in retirement in Oakura I was given a synopsis by Val Deakin to write a ballet for her Dance Theatre in New Plymouth. She choreographed the second movement only and it was performed in New Plymouth with an ad hoc orchestra in 1989, myself conducting.

A moonlit scene on a lonely beach with long slow waves rising and receding. Gradually they become more intense; their inward and outward criss-crossing revealing a dangerous undertow. The music reaches a climax, and, certain motives representing two of the principal dancers are heard. The mysterious 'chorus' of sirens, of Part 1, is briefly heard, and the principal Siren appears moving front stage while the 'chorus' recedes. The principal male dancer now rises, and in a dream, and is drawn towards her. She leads him closer to the sea and they dance to the 'sea' and 'siren' music. As he tries to hold her, she again and again is allusive, and taunts him deeper and deeper until the sea engulfs him. He drowned and thrown back by the waves onto the beach.

– Hugh Dixon, 22 November 2009

Contents note

hree movements

Performance history

Performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra