Song of the goldfields : for soprano, violoncello and piano
by Ann Carr-Boyd (2013)
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Song of the goldfields : for soprano, violoncello and piano / music: Ann Carr-Boyd ; text: Bronwyn Blaiklock.
Library shelf no. 783.6654/CAR 4 [Not for loan]
Today it is hard for us to imagine what life was like on the
goldfields of Ballarat, when tasks were done manually and such
things as electricity, gas, telephones and powered tools were yet
to come. Life was not as comfortable as it is for us today.
I gained a very small inkling of life in these days when I was researching the development of European music in Australia in the 19th century and spent three years pouring over newspapers of the day and travelling to many places to interview musicians who could remember earlier times. Some of the vivid life of these times leapt out of the pages of these old newspapers - and no times were more vivid than the Goldrush years in Victoria. Gold initiated a golden era and in the area of the arts, there was a veritable explosion of activity surrounding the newly imported population of the goldfields. Famous singers and instrumentalists arrived, often fresh from the Californian goldfields - and brought with them all types of music from folk song to grand opera.
Bronwyn Blaiklock's words for Song of the Goldfields evoked an instant response from me - in one poem she has captured three things which were the essence of the goldfields - the hardships of life; the traditions which travelled with these adventurous people and at the same time the feeling of new life in a new country.
I tried to echo these ideas in my music. The opening is a bit folk-like and not intended to be played in an over-refined manner - more like the rollicking times spent in song and dance (and drinking!) in the famous hotels of the goldfields - this was new life in a new country. In keeping with the repetition of folk music, the opening ideas are also repeated. The contrast in Bronwyn's words caused a similar shift in the music - life was definitely not all singing and dancing - the cold winds blew, and the hot sun shone - people sometimes dragged their feet - and the sometimes discordant music does likewise (the hardships of life). Comfort was often sought by evoking memories of the homeland in far-off Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England (traditions which lived on) and there is a hint of this in the music - only to be swept away by the pervasive lure of folk music of the day.
Instrumentation: Soprano, cello, piano.
Duration: 8 min.
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