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Symphony No. 3

for full orchestra

Year:  2010   ·  Duration:  30m
Instrumentation:  2*23*2; 4231; timp., 2 perc.; hp, pno; strings | bass drum, crash cymbals, glock. hammer, log drum, mar., poi, susp. cymbals, tam-tam, xylo, tom-toms, tub. bells)

Year:  2010
Duration:  30m
Instrumentation  2*23*2; 4231; timp., 2 perc...

Composer:   Anthony Ritchie

Films, Audio & Samples

Southern Sinfonia c. Simon Over, 2010.

Anthony Ritchie: Symphony N...

Embedded audio
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Sample Audio

Sample: "Up" (1st movement): 0'00"-1'00"

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Sample Audio

Sample: "Down" (2nd movement): 0'00"-1'00"

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Symphony No. 3 was composed as part of Anthony Ritchie's work as senior lecturer in composition at the University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand. It was written over a period of two years between 2008-2010, without a specific orchestra in mind. It will be recorded by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under conductor, Tecwyn Evans, in 2010, as part of a CD of Anthony Ritchie's orchestral compositions. The premiere live performance will take place in The Otago Festival of Arts, October 2010, with the Southern Sinfornia orchestra in Dunedin. The composer wishes to acknowledge the support of the University of Otago in writing this symphony.

This symphony is a portrayal of two sides of human personality, represented by the two movements of the work: 'Up' and 'Down'. The music depicts the constant struggle to find balance in one's life, in terms of mood and relationship with other people.

Broadly speaking, 'Up' is active, busy, bright in mood. Musical motifs and themes emphasize upward progressions, while the orchestration is lively and colourful. Full of blazing brass and high-pitched woodwind, 'Up' is associated with images of the sun, and outdoors activity. Percussion play an important role rhythmically, especially the combination of log drum and tom toms. Eventually the lively character of the music loses control, leading to a riotous climax involving the percussion and full orchestra in unison. The music disintegrates into a short oasis of calm, before the busy mood is gradually reestablished, and brings the movement to a bright end, on a D Lydian chord.

'Down', by contrast, is melancholic, slow and mournful in mood. If 'Up' is associated with the sun, then 'Down' is associated with Saturn. There is also reference made to Durer's famous woodcut, Melancholia (1514), in which a magic square appears. The numbers on this square are used to generate themes and ideas in this movement - the opening piccolo melody, underpinned by wispy strings, for example. A second theme, featuring tuba and bass trombone, refers to a 'tuatara' teme written by the composer in 1991, and here is ponderous in tone. Following a gradual buildup a faster section emerges, full of tension and unresolved progressions. The angry protests subside, and a mysterious passage recaps the first theme, accompanied by constantly shifting strings. Out of the depths emerges a bass clarinet, playing a bird-like theme, which is picked up by the other woodwinds in a fugue, which refers back to the earlier quick section. After a brief silence, the second theme reappears but this time in a passionate, full-blooded version that leads to a tense climax. The music searches for resolution, and eventually finds it in a lyrical coda for strings alone, to start with. Themes from earlier in the symphony are transformed and the overall key centre, D, is hinted at but never quite reached. The chiming of a clock suggests the never-ending passing of time, and the log drum, so prominent in the first movement, returns to conclude the work.

Click here for information about all of Anthony Ritchie's symphonies.

Dedication note

To Sandy

Contents note


Performance history

09 Oct 2010: Symphony No. 3: Dunedin

06 Dec 2010: Otago Festival of the Arts 2010 on Music Alive

Recorded at Wellington Town Hall, May 2010, by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tecwyn Evans

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