by Peter Sculthorpe (2012)
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This work consists of two movements, Song of Home and Lament and Yearning. Based upon three melodies from Australia's far north, the first is an almost-forgotten popular song from Thursday Island. During World War II, with the threat of invasion, it gave comfort to the islanders. The second is a chant called Djilile, from the nearby mainland coast. It means 'whistling-duck on a billabong'. The third is a lament from Elcho Island. This was passed on to me some years ago by a local tribal elder.
Song of Home embraces the first two of the melodies and also makes references to the third. It sings of the love that the indigenous inhabitants have for their island home, the place where they and their ancestors were born. Sadly, because of climate change many of these places are now in peril. The second movement begins with the lament, with the thought of islands that may disappear forever in the rising tidal waters. This finally gives way to a return of the Thursday Island music. Here, it sings of the yearning for a more stable world. Given the will to do so, it is still possible for humankind to halt the worst effects of climate change.
Duration: 18-19 min.
- Influenced by: Indigenous Australian Culture
Performances of this work
13 Aug 2016: at Elements – Bonnie Brown, Louisa Breen & Russell Smith (Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre). Featuring Russell Smith, Brown and Breen Piano Duo.
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