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This musical analogy to the physical phenomenon of light breaking up is written in a pointillistic style, with sinuous melodic fragments leaping across the piano keyboard in jagged cross-rhythmic dancing. Angular counter- melodies are provided by a chamber orchestra of single winds and brass with 14 strings in this single movement.
The idea of diffractions is represented in sound by the piano, central and prominent, exploiting an aspect of its technique to which it is ideally suited: rapid changes of direction and wide intervallic leaps with extreme dynamics. The orchestra provides bands of coloured spectra forming an integrated texture. The melody, oscillating and colourful is sometimes pointillistic and at other times it flows into longer continuous phrases.
Diffractions is essentially an abstract work in one continuous movement.
Commissioned by Dunedin Sinfonia (now Southern Sinfonia) with funding assistance from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council(now Creative New Zealand)
13 Sep 1987: Premiered by the Dunedin Sinfonia (now Southern Sinfonia), Terence Dennis (piano) conducted by Jack Speirs
31 Oct 1987: Performed by David Guerin (piano) and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Francisco Feliciano at the Sonic Circus, Wellington
14 Jun 2007: Diffractions: Keay
Performed by the Nelson Symphony Orchestra in April 1990 with David Guerin piano conducted by Miranda Adams at the Nelson School of Music (NZ)