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When David heard

Sheet Music: Score

When David heard : for chamber choir and piano / Jennifer Fowler.

by Jennifer Fowler (2007)

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  • Library Availability: 782.55295/FOW 1 — Available for loan
  • Instrumentation: SATB choir (divided into 4 groups), piano (or alternative other non-keyboard instrument, or voice).
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  • Audio Sample

    Performance by Roland Peelman, Sydney Chamber Choir from the CD Works by Bowman, Schultz, Yu, Ford, Twist, Holley, Kerry, Spiers and Fowler


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When David Heard is the setting of a dramatic account of the death of Absolem. It contains a universal theme: the rebellion of a child against his parent. Everyone who has been a child or a parent will recognise the love, hate and guilt engendered in this relationship. David is forced to fight, in order to retain his kingship, but he is overcome by guilt, as well as grief, when his son is killed in the battle.

Musically, I was thinking in terms of a kind of chanting, and here I found it useful to think of Aboriginal chant, rather than that of the European tradition. From Aboriginal chant, I have borrowed the idea of a phrase pattern which typically starts high and loud and finishes low and soft. It is also slightly out of synchronisation in pitch and rhythm. Having established this pattern I have then found it useful to break out of it at certain dramatic points. Rather more of the story is told in this version, than in the famous Thomas Tomkins motet of the same name; but the piece ends with the same text as Tomkins and contains a couple of brief musical references to it.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (29p. -- A4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced

Duration: 9 mins

Dedication note: To my friend David Tunley, and his son, Martin, and to my son, Martin.
Commission info: Commissioned for the Collegium Musicum of the University of Western Australia.

First performance by David Tunley, Collegium Musicum — 5 Jun 83. York, WA

Includes performance notes.

Text from the Bible (Samuel 2, 17), adapted from the New English Bible.

Typeset edition.

ISMN: 979-0-67309-160-3

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