Groundswell : for orchestra
by Paul Stanhope (2002)
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Library shelf no. CD 955 [Available for loan]
The title Groundswell refers to both tidal movements of the sea and also to the significant shifting of public opinion. Although it is primarily this latter sense of the word which is the main concern, it is also true that the influence of the sea on much of my music can also be heard in this piece, especially in the shapes and structures of musical phrases.
Groundswell is based upon an insistent repeated fragment as if it were a half-remembered phrase or a niggling question. This fragment is heard in the different sections of the orchestra in the opening; firstly in the woodwinds, then the strings and then more assertively and tempestuously with brass and percussion. A genuine feeling of groundswell occurs as the music ebbs and flows by means of a series of musical transformations. A rising scale-like passage in the strings, later joined by the woodwinds brings the musical tension to a front which is then released in a climactic hymn-like section. Here the half-remembered figure transforms into a much longer, arching melody in the violins against the backdrop of a bell-like brass and glockenspiel. I began to think of this melody (which was influenced by sections of plainchant in the Victoria Requiem) as an Agnus Dei for refugees who are currently imprisoned in detention centres across Australia. The Agnus Dei movement in a mass or requiem is a plea for peace and forgiveness: here it suggests the need for compassion and dignity in the face of the institutionalised abuse of human rights.
Instrumentation: 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 2 bassoons (2nd doubling contra if possible), 4 French horns in F, 2 trumpets in C, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, timpani, percussion, harp, strings.
Duration: 7 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — High standard youth orchestra or professional
Composed during the composer's time at Peggy Glanville-Hicks House, Paddington, NSW, May 2002.
Performances of this work
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