Illawarra music : for orchestra
by John Peterson (2000)
Library shelf no. 784.2/PET 1 [Not for loan]
"Illawarra" is an aboriginal word meaning, "high place near the
Illawarra Music is a musical homage to the geographical area in New South Wales where I spent much of my youth. The "Illawarra" is a long, narrow coastal plain, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the mountains of the Great Dividing Range on the other, which lies just south of Sydney. While Illawarra Music follows no strict programmatic concept it does try to give a sense of place, a vivid identity, to this area that has been called one of the most beautiful in Australia.
The music is in three sections. The first and last sections are typical of my work in that they couple relentless rhythmic ostinati with melodies that can be either quite long and sinuous, as in the first movement, or constructed out of short repetitive fragments, as in the second and third movements. The use of additive rhythms (10/8, 7/8, and 13/8) at quite fast tempi propels the outer sections of the work along, reflecting not only the energy and vitality of the people of the Illawarra, but also referring to the impact the steel and mining inustries have had on this area throughout its history.
The central section of Illawarra Music was inspired by the presence of the Pacific Ocean and of Lake Illawarra, a large body of water that sits at the very heart of the region. The music is a nocturne, and is associated with the visual image of the moonlight reflected in the waters, and of the night-time gradually
becoming day as the sun rises. The music at the beginning of this section is very quiet, scored only for harp, piano and keyboard percussion, and gently ebbs and flows, making use of repetitive melodic cells that are grouped in five-bar phrases. As the music progresses, it continues to build, slowly but inexorably, adding more and more instruments to the texture, growing subtly louder and louder until it reaches a climax representing the full rays of the morning sun being reflected in the waters of the lake and the ocean. The five-bar phrasing is used deliberately to represent the five islands that lie just off the coast of Port Kembla, the main industrial city of the Illawarra.
Illawarra Music was selected as a semi-finalist entry in Masterprize 2001, an international competition for new symphonic music administered jointly by the BBC Music Magazine and the London Symphony Orchestra. It was subsequently recorded by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for radio broadcasts in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, and Australia.
Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players), piano, harp, strings.
Duration: 17 min.
Dedication note: "For my mother"
- Inspired by: Illawarra
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