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Cape Reinga

for orchestra

  ·  Duration:  8m
Instrumentation:  2122; 2200; strings

Duration:  8m
Instrumentation  2122; 2200; strings

Lucy Mulgan

Composer:   Lucy Mulgan


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Cape Reinga is the final movement in a three piece orchestral suite exploring New Zealand landscape and their link to the four elements. Punakaiki (water) and Ruapehu (earth and fire) along with Cape Reinga (air) were always envisaged as a group that can either be performed as separate units or as a whole.

Cape Reinga is the northern most point of New Zealand and in Maori Myth it is the place where the spirits travel before departing into the next world. This orchestral work focuses on the journey that the recently deceased spirit takes to reach the cape, contemplating the life left behind as the land falls away on either side and the final sense of release and peace as you leap from the edge of the world with only the sea and air beyond.

The underlying orchestral texture evolves gradually throughout Cape Reinga. Long single notes in the strings begin in the middle range of the orchestra and slowly open out as more instruments are introduced. Solos emerge from the texture beneath, first the violin, the oboe and back to the violin with added bassoon. As the texture thickens and descends into chaos, it becomes ornamented with slight swells, repeated notes and varying techniques. This chaos leads to the resting place of Spirits Bay, a slight respite before the texture re-emerges with trumpets and horns heralding the triumphant final stretch of the spirit's journey on land before evaporating into the final flute solo.

Cape Reinga was premiered by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 2003 and broadcast on Radio New Zealand Concert in New Zealand.

Performance history

First performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in 2003