Garden of Fire : for mezzo-soprano, percussion and piano
by Bruce Crossman (2017)
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Library shelf no. 783.6754/CRO 1 [Available for loan]
Garden of Fire takes its point of departure from the sensuality of Tang Xianzu's Peony Pavillion poetry through lucid translations from Lindy Li Mark and Mandarin as well as the structured sense of revelatory space from the Chinese Gardens in Sydney. The music explores the poetry's static sense of understated erotic tensions that suddenly strike the senses through nature allusions through inside-the-note vocalizations and operatic vibrato through the mezzo-soprano line, and accentuates the colours through drawing on both traditional Chinese and extended European instrumental techniques in the percussion and piano. The living colour aesthetic from Chinese Confucian thought that underpins the vocal line, is extended through the Chinese opera percussion sensitivity to sliding gong timbres and resonances as well as prepared string vibrations on piano. The structure of the work is composed of flanking distilled sections of colour transformations at the beginning and end of the piece around static colours which gain propelling motion to a form multi-sonority climax, with elements of Peking Opera modal pitches, percussive freedom, free-jazz intrusions and pulsations. The timelessness of a free section presents the "shyness" after the climactic and dissolves back into an emergent colour labyrinth where distilled colour wrestles with jazzy ruptures.
Instrumentation: Mezzo-soprano, percussion (1 player: crotales, vibraphone, kulintang, hi-hat cymbals, 2 Peking Opera gongs [middle, high]), piano.
Duration: 16 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Advanced — Complex rhythmic detail and changing colour nuances
Dedication note: "dedicated to Colleen, my beautiful wife of over thirty years"
Commission note: Written for Anna Fraser (mezzo-soprano), Claire Edwardes (percussion) and Linda Yim (piano)
First performance: by Anna Fraser, Claire Edwardes, Linda Yim — 11 Oct 17. Premiered with video artist Simon Killalea as part of the Shy Like Blushing Flowers Create NSW Development at Q Theatre, The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith NSW
The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Chinese opera: Kunqu and Cantonese opera; free jazz improvisation
"Garden of Fire" is designed to work with video art projections designed by Simon Killalea as part of the larger Shy Like Blushing Flowers project.
“Garden of Fire” within the Shy Like Blushing Flowers Project was supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.
- Influenced by: Chinese culture
Performances of this work
11 Oct 17: Premiered with video artist Simon Killalea as part of the Shy Like Blushing Flowers Create NSW Development at Q Theatre, The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith NSW. Featuring Anna Fraser, Claire Edwardes, Linda Yim.
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