Rainchant : for SSA (treble) choir and chamber orchestra
by Paul Stanhope (2000)
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Soon after returning to Australia after living for seven months in the United Kingdom, I witnessed a spectacular thunderstorm over Sydney. This display of natural elements seemed so impressive (and such a contrast to London drizzle!) I knew at that moment I should write a piece which painted a musical picture of a Sydney storm.
There are two sources for the texts used here. From a collection of some two hundred traditional Haiku, I selected a handful which, when freely adapted, began to build up a picture of a city which sounded like Sydney, with images of a city on a harbour and nearby houses with red-tile roofs. The other text is a series of words for "rain" or "rainstorm" from different Aboriginal languages in the south-eastern parts of Australia. The use of these texts suggests a layering of culture and history in the painting of this musical tableaux.
The chant itself, sung simply to "oo" and "ah", represents the soil or the earth or perhaps even the idea of being earthed. The chant is symbolically calling down rain to quench drought and to revitalise and replenish the earth. It also stands for renewal and replenishment on a personal level.
RAINCHANT was commissioned by Karen Carey and the Department of Music at MLC School in Burwood. It was premiered in May 2001 by MLC school in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House.
Instrumentation: SSA (treble) choir with soli or semi chorus, percussion (1 player), piano, string orchestra; (pebbles for choristers and optional CD of thunder clap (available with performance parts) also required).
Duration: 7 min.
Difficulty: Medium — School/amateur.
First performance: by MLC School (Sydney) — May 01. Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
Written especially for school and youth performance in both choir and orchestra parts. The piece may, however, benefit from a more experienced percussionist and a professional pianist.
Performances of this work
May 01: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House. Featuring MLC School (Sydney).
1 May 01: Concert presented by MLC School, Burwood, Sydney Opera House
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