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Australian works for orchestra
In December 2006 the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra celebrated its centenary, and other state orchestras boast various levels of longevity. But it was only in the mid-1930s that the orchestras gained financial and administrative stability, when the newly-formed ABC took control, believing that each state should have an orchestra of even quality. The ABC’s program of touring international conductors raised standards, and gradually a body of Australian orchestral music came into being.
Some composers produced competent if unadventurous music, but John Antill’s Corroboree in 1946 was a milestone. As ABC Director of Music in the 1960s, John Hopkins established a pattern for the encouragement of numerous new works, including early Sculthorpe, and resident conductors such as Patrick Thomas and Stuart Challender championed them. The typical ABC commission was, for a long time, a 10-12 minute curtain-raiser. Since the 1980s, in the music of Carl Vine, Brenton Broadstock and Ross Edwards especially, the symphony – largely in abeyance since the death of Alfred Hill in 1960 – has made a comeback. Centralised coordination by the ABC meant that new works were frequently premiered in two or more centres up until the mid-1990s, but with the subsequent corporatisations and devolution of the orchestras this is sadly less common.
||Microsymphony (1986) by Carl Vine||established Vine’s mature diatonic idiom and laid the foundations for an impressive body of seven symphonies.|
|Symphony No. 2 (1989) by Brenton Broadstock||reflects this use of the symphony to explore extreme emotional states.|
|Cries and whispers (1993) by Stephen Cronin||is a powerful study of anguish in sound.|
||Guyuhmgan by Georges Lentz||meditates Pythagorean and Aboriginal concepts of the universe.|
|Symphony no. 4 (2001) by Ross Edwards||Star Chant puts humanity in perspective in this celebration of the cosmos.|
||Mythic (2004) by Elena Kats-Chernin||is an atypical, but nonetheless moving and beautiful work.|