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The Great Harbour of Tara, Op. 17

for symphony orchestra

Year:  1998   ·  Duration:  14m
Instrumentation:  2222; 4331; timp.; 3 perc.; hp; strings | (Perc: glock., cymbal, snare drum, bass drum, tambourine, cel., gong, triangle, tub. bells)

Year:  1998
Duration:  14m
Instrumentation  2222; 4331; timp.; 3 perc.;...

Ray Twomey

Composer:   Ray Twomey

Films, Audio & Samples

Sample Audio

Sample: 0:20-1:20

See details ➔
Sample Score

Sample: Pages 1-4, 23-26

See details ➔


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The Great Harbour of Tara is a tone poem about Wellington. A conductor's score and fully edited parts are available.

The work starts with atmosphere - waves lapping very gently on Petone beach and the tinkle of sand. The main theme sounds on the french horn then the music builds and eventually a reference is made to the old whaling days followed by a storm (a characteristic of Cook Strait - the infamous 'southerly') building to hurricane force strength. The storm also alludes to the sinking of the Wahine (a Cook Strait ferry) in the '60s. An elegy for strings follows in honour of the victims of that disaster. The mood gradually changes to calm acceptance and on to an optimistic view of Wellington's future, a big, full tutti . The work closes with the atmosphere of sand, surf and evening.

A tone poem in praise of Te Whanganui a Tara

Dedication note

to Patricia & Vincent Kerr and their daughters Isabel and Charlotte (The Kerr Family)

Contents note

one movement

Performance history