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for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble

Year:  1980   ·  Duration:  35m
Instrumentation:  clarinet, clarinet/bass-clarinet, violin/viola, cello, percussion (marimba, 9 drums in high to low sequence, drum of fluctuating pitch, bass drum, 5 suspended cymbals, ching - Thai finger cymbals, bell tree, rasp, 2 woodblocks, 3 temple blocks, wood chimes)

Year:  1980
Duration:  35m
Instrumentation  clarinet, clarinet/bass-cla...

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Score

Sample: Page 1-6.

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This monodrama for mezzo-soprano and chamber sextet, commissioned by Northern Arts UK, tells of the 14th century North of England warrior Henry Percy (Hotspur), seen through the eyes of Elizabeth Mortimer, in a striking ballad sequence written by Fleur Adcock.

Whitehead's imaginative score combines exotic and arresting instrumental colours, a strong dramatic vocal line (often with flamboyant flourishes) and an admirable overall conception of the mood changes and tonal graduation of the work. (William Dart, NZ Listener)

She has the rare gift of knowing when to use nightmarish vehemences and when to be utterly straightforward and calm. (Roger Covell, Sydney Morning Herald).

Commissioned note

Commissioned by Musicon, assisted by Northern Arts

Text note

Text by Fleur Adcock

Performance history

19 Aug 2007: Gillian Whitehead Portrait

Performed by Anthea Moller (sop.), Tor Fromyhr (vln/vla), David Pereira (vlc), Nicole Canham (cl.), Gavin Clark (cl./bs cl.), Darryl Pratt (perc.) and Gillian Whitehead (extra perc.) on Anthology of Australian music - Dramatic vocal music; CD

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