The returned soldier : Symphony no. 3 : for orchestra
by Matthew Hindson (2014)
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Library shelf no. 784.2184/HIN 1 [Available for loan]
Australia and the USA have fought alongside one another in every major conflict of the 20th and 21st century, from World War I and II, to Korea and Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is self-evident that war is not a happy place for those who are involved. Even more troubling are the reported cases of service personnel who have returned home - to the US or Australia - but who have been psychologically damaged by their experiences. Physical injuries are horrific, but mental scars can remain just as potent for years. As a school student I was taught of the shellshock affecting returning soldiers from WW1.
In my own family, the brother of my sister-in-law has been affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his service in Iraq. He will never be the same person again as he was before his service. To hear his sister talk of his experiences and the effects these have had on the entire family is heart-breaking. His service was in support of a better world, but he has sacrificed the 'normal' life so many of us enjoy in the process.
My uncle served in Korea but would never talk of his experiences there. My mother as a clinical psychologist still deals today with psychological issues of Australian Vietnam War veterans.
In writing The Returned Soldier, my starting points were images and scenarios faced by the veterans of these (and other) wars, and the effects upon their families and loved ones. Memories of violence, of unimaginable terror, of having performed brutal acts upon other human beings in the service of helping us to live a better life.
Symptoms of PTSD were also used as starting points for music in this piece. These include the emotional reactions through re-living traumatic events, a sense of emotional numbness at times in attempts to cope, and a sense of being continually on edge for periods of time.
The structure of the work, in five sections, is based upon the image of a returned service person, lying in their bed at home, perhaps on a very still night in the countryside. They are away from the brutality of war, yet are still searching for some sort of peace or resolution from their experiences. Will they ever be able to find it?
Instrumentation: Piccolo (doubling flute), 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in Bb, bass clarinet in Bb, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in Bb, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players), harp, piano (doubling celeste), strings.
Duration: 25 min.
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