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String Quartet

for string quartet

Year:  1994   ·  Duration:  15m

Year:  1994
Duration:  15m

Composer:   Helen Fisher

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Sample Score

Sample: Page 1-6.

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This string quartet is performed as one movement. The first section is predominantly contrapuntal, including the opening bars where each performer sings 'Aue' (meaning 'Alas!', a Maori acclamation in some waiata tangi). The work continues with a section which features solo cello, followed by dance and song-like sections.

Much of the work is based on the intervals of a minor third, semitone and tone. Karanga, Maori song-calls, performed by women on the marae to welcome or farewell people, are one source of inspiration for this piece. A characteristic musical feature of karanga is a long drawn out cry (glissando). Since there is often more than one caller on the marae, it is not uncommon for the calls to overlap.

In October 1994 the New Zealand String Quartet gave its premiere performance at Lower Hutt. It is described as "quite probably the most successful synthesis of the contemporary Maori and European sound worlds." Dominion 16-9-95.

Commissioned note

Commissioned by the Hutt Valley Chamber Music Society with funding provided by the QEII Arts Council (now Creative New Zealand)

Difficulty note

The violinists and cellist sing "Aue" 7 times, the violist 3 times

Dedication note

'String Quartet' (1994) is dedicated to the memory of May Manoy (1913-1993), a lifelong friend who was also an enthusiastic supporter of chamber music in Wellington since the late 1940s.

Contents note

single movement

Performance history

31 May 1994: Performed by the New Zealand String Quartet; Hutt Valley Chamber Music Society, Little Theatre, Lower Hutt

14 Apr 2010: NZSQ in the Hutt

Performed by the New Zealand String Quartet

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