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Rod Biss: Waiata Aroha - AUDIOEmbedded audio
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When Witi Ihimaera approached me with his cycle of poems he gave them to me with a very detailed description of how he wanted them set, even to suggesting that there should be instrumental 'variations' between each song.
Waiata Aroha, he wrote, "is a group of 'last songs' sung by a young man facing death (tenor), his lover (baritone) and the dying man's elder sister (mezzo-soprano). The song cycle itself comprises three solos, two duets and one trio."
When he showed me the poems I was most impressed with them and thought that they would undoubtedly work well as a song cycle. We agreed that the overall of the cycle should not be too dark, quoting again from Witi's note; "Like at a tangihanga the ultimate mood should be one of transformation, coming to terms with the cycle of life and death."
His idea of 'variations' between the songs has not entirely disappeared, but instead of writing separate instrumental movements I have allowed the music to develop into dance-like sections, and where Witi has provided particularly visual images I have tried to match them in the music.
The first draft of the song cycle was completed as long ago as 1998, revisions took me up to 2005, and since then I have put it onto the Sibelius computer programme making a few further changes at the same time. Witi has said that he might like to make a few changes to the words before any performances takes place – but largely speaking I think the cycle is complete. A piano reduction is available.
– Rod Biss, 26 July 2010
- At Delphi
- I Still Catch my Breath
- Love Lay Waiting
- Wild Swans Flying
- Moralists, Accusers, Fathers
- Swimmer on a Dark
- Willow Patter
- Lullaby for Grieving Lovers
Text by Witi Ihimaera
08 May 2011: 20th NZSO-SOUNZ Readings