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for orchestra

  ·  Duration:  11m
Instrumentation:  2*2*2*2; 4230; strings

Duration:  11m
Instrumentation  2*2*2*2; 4230; strings

Lucy Mulgan

Composer:   Lucy Mulgan


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Ruapehu is the middle movement in a three piece orchestral suite exploring New Zealand landscapes 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.

Ruapehu is an active volcano in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. It is also the area that surrounds this mountain, a vast unpopulated desert plain of volcanic earth, jagged gorges and red-brown tussock. The two dominant themes are introduced in quick succesion: the fluid flame-like lines across the full orchestra and the slow, low rumbles of brass, woodwind and double basses.

The flame-like lines are developed first in the strings as long, soaring melody and then later as broken chords in the brass. The low rumblings of brass and woodwind reappear as a lonely cor anglais melody symbolising the miles of uninhabitable desert plain. In the final section all previous material is layered together and builds into a brief chorale coda, the inevitable volcanic eruption.

Ruapehu was premiered by the BBC Philharmonic in February 2001 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Here and Now.

Performance history

First performed by the BBC Philharmonic in February 2001 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3's _Here and Now_