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have long wanted to write a piece with an ancient Greek theme, partly because of my fascination with the aulos, an important reed instrument in ancient Greece. I have often imagined what this instrument would sound like perhaps something like a fusion of modern saxophone, oboe and clarinet. So when presented with the chance to write for wind sextet, I was immediately drawn to this idea. The resulting two movement suite,Ostrakon, uses various combinations of reed instruments in unison, to experiment with the unique tonal opportunities that the addition of saxophone to the traditional wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn) bring.
An ostrakon is a shard of pottery, which was often used in Athens as a voting ballot. In the first movement, melodic fragments are juxtaposed against a repeated note ostinato, reminiscent of mosaic. The longer second movement develops some of these melodic ideas further and also introduces the aulos. I sometimes associate reed instruments with mourning, and there is a feeling in this movement of loss or exile, of fading into antiquity.
Ostrakon was commissioned by Father Arthur Bridge and Ars Musica Australis for the Sydney Omega Ensemble and saxophonist Nicholas Russoniello
27 Jul 2013: Performed by the Sydney Omega Ensemble at the Wollongong City Gallery, in Sydney
04 Aug 2013: Performed by the Sydney Omega Ensemble at the Utzon Room in the Sydney Opera House, in Sydney