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for flute and orchestra

Year:  2004   ·  Duration:  11m
Instrumentation:  solo flute + 1*222; 2200; timp; strings

Year:  2004
Duration:  11m
Instrumentation  solo flute + 1*222; 2200; t...

John Elmsly

Composer:   John Elmsly

Films, Audio & Samples

John Elmsly: Response - AUDIO

Embedded audio
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Sample Score

Sample: Pages 1-3,63-65

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I have played and loved the flute for forty years, so it is a wonderful instrument with which to respond to the NZSO's request for 'a work for flute and orchestra in the nature of a ballade.' One of my main teachers on the instrument, Amelia Skinner, played flute in the orchestra some thirty years ago, and I have always been a great admirer of the sensitive playing of current principal Bridget Douglas.

At the time of beginning the sketches I had come across an old Chinese four-character saying, in fact a quote from a story in a book of philosophy called "Lie-zi" from about 500BC, which describes a beautiful singer whose renditions were so unforgettable they could be heard 'encircling the rafters for three days'. It is a delightful image, often used nowadays to compliment excellence in performance, so throughout the composition I try to make the flute sing until the sound 'rise into the rafters', hence the predominance of rising melodic gestures.

The musical language is entirely derived from a couple of melodies which appear in various forms, sometimes very fragmentary, throughout the piece. Not long before the composing began I had engaged in a discussion with another composter about what he saw as the lack of melodic and harmonic sense in much of the music that is being written today, so I hope that in working entirely with melodic and harmonic ideas I have created an appropriate response. I have also explored memory in creating the form of the piece: losing track of reality then finding it again, a response to the happenings in the mind when affected by brain disease.

Commissioned note

Commissioned by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (2004)

Contents note

One movement

Performance history

01 Oct 2005: Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Matthias Bamert with soloist Bridget Douglas (flute)