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4 hours in a holding pattern : for orchestra

by Stuart Greenbaum (1997)

Also known as: Four hours in a holding pattern

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Melbourne University Orchestra, Richard Gill from the CD Works for orchestra

Works for orchestra


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Works for orchestra / Stuart Greenbaum.

Library shelf no. CD 646 [Available for loan]

4 hours in a holding pattern


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4 hours in a holding pattern : for orchestra / Stuart Greenbaum.

Library shelf no. Q 784.2/GRE 5 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Contrary to visions of a delayed landing approach from hell, the title '4 Hours in a Holding Pattern' actually refers to a uniquely wonderful flight from St. Petersburg to London. Taking off at sunset, the plane impossibly follows the sun and lands four hours later, still in sunset. A dark horizon of deep orange, red and purple lasting as long as the fully staged version of Tristan und Isolde is something I may never experience again (the latter gratefully...). Thanks extended to BA for a window seat and the economy-class food offering.

The main theme (a jazz tune I wrote ten years ago) gradually forms out of simple motivic fragments. The sections of the orchestra are contrasted against a minimalist 'holding pattern' - six bars of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4. Occasional forays into 6/8 create a half-time feel with ambiguous re-groupings of the musical material.

This piece is dedicated to Brenton Broadstock, a good friend and composition teacher of many years. Brenton is the best orchestrator that I've ever met and I hope that this piece might serve as testament to the time we spent working on my music (eight years in holding pattern?). It took that long for the 'fibonacci king' to finally persuade me to try my hand at a formally proportioned structure built on the golden section.

— Stuart Greenbaum

Work Details

Year: 1997

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in A, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets in C, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, piano (doubling celeste), timpani, percussion (2 players), strings.

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Brenton Broadstock

Written for: Melbourne University Orchestra

First performance: by Richard Gill, Melbourne University Orchestra — 10 Oct 97. South Melbourne Town Hall

This work may be performed as a stand-alone piece or as part of the suite Four essays on the passing of time (90 minutes circling the earth -- 4 minutes in a nuclear bunker -- Moments of falling -- 4 hours in a holding pattern).

Performances of this work

10 Oct 97: South Melbourne Town Hall. Featuring Richard Gill, Melbourne University Orchestra.

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