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Baltimore songlines : for clarinet, violin & piano

by Peter Sculthorpe (2006)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

Performance by Verdehr Trio from the CD Music from Down Under

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Music from Down Under


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Music from Down Under / the Verder Trio

Library shelf no. CD 2103 [Not for loan]

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Work Overview

During the 1990s, I began a series of works that incorporate material suggested by the indigenous music of northern Australia, together with Balinese gamelan-like figurations and bird-song. These works were inspired by Bruce Chatwin's book, Songlines. In it, Chatwin writes about the Aboriginal concept of totemic ancestors singing themselves into existence and journeying across the land with their songs. Dreamtracks and From Nourlangie, both written for the Verdehr Trio, are two of these works.

The present work was written especially for the Verdehr Trio, for first performance in the National Aquarium in Baltimore. An enormous replica of a river gorge, like those found in Australia's Northern Territory in Umbrawarra and Kakadu, has been built inside the aquarium. It houses freshwater crocodiles, long neck turtles, flying foxes and all the species of flora and fauna that exist in such gorges.
In one movement, the music of Baltimore Songlines, is self-explanatory. Apart from the opening, which is based upon an indigenous lullaby, all the material, especially the tumbling chant that follows the lullaby, was inspired by visits to the Northern Territory. Towards the end of the work, a section for solo piano suggests the music of the didjeridu, an instrument that has its origins in Australia's north.
I feel that Baltimore Songlines is the summation of my so-called 'Songlines period'. Unlike the other works in the series, some of its thematic material tends to recede over the course of the work, giving way to new ideas. In this way, I was able to suggest both journeying and the continual renewal of the natural world.

Work Details

Year: 2006

Instrumentation: Clarinet, piano, violin.

Duration: 16 min.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Verdehr Trio

Commission note: Commissioned by Embassy of Australia (Washington D.C.), Michigan State University for performance by Verdehr Trio.. Commissioned by the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C., the Baltimore Aquarium, and Michigan State University

First performance: by Verdehr Trio — 26 Oct 06. Baltimore Aquarium, Baltimore, USA


Performances of this work

25 Jun 2015: at ANAM fellowship performance: Musical Chairs (South Melbourne Town Hall). Featuring ANAM Musicians.

25 May 2013: at Australia Ensemble in concert (Sir John Clancy Auditorium). Featuring Australia Ensemble.

26 Oct 06: Baltimore Aquarium, Baltimore, USA. Featuring Verdehr Trio.

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