Gambar gambar Jawa : Images of Java
by Betty Beath (2007)
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Gambar Gambar Jawa...Images of Java is a song cycle for voice and orchestra. It is my response to an invitation from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University to write a work for solo voice and the Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra. My brief was to relate the work to the themes of water, islands and journeys of discovery, which would be traced in programs to be presented throughout 2007, a year when the Queensland Conservatorium celebrated its 50th Anniversary.
In 1974 I began a journey of discovery when The Australia Council awarded a joint South-east Asian Fellowship to David Cox (my husband) and myself, which allowed us to research material in Indonesia. Since that time we have developed a strong interest in the music and arts of that country and an affection for her people; we have produced many works which reflect those valued influences. In 1979 we were invited to speak of our work in a lecture program to do with bridging cultures sponsored by and held at the Taman Ismael Marzuki, Jakarta; again in 1994 I was asked to introduce the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Richard Mills, in a performance of my tone poem Asmaradana programmed in the Music of Australia concert held during the Trade and Cultural Mission in Jakarta, Australia Today Indonesia '94.
In this work, Gambar Gambar Jawa I have set poems by Javanese writers Goenawan Mohamad and the late Subagio Sastrowardojo in both English and Indonesian languages. The beautiful English translations are by Dr. Harry Aveling; but to present the rhythm of the original language and also the intimate and powerful relationship between word and meaning I have set some of the poems as they were originally created in Bahasa Indonesia.
Though certain of the songs included in this cycle revisit some of my early works for voice and piano I was pleased to have an opportunity to review, to include additional material and to orchestrate a work which reflects some treasured images of Java.
Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in F, percussion (5 players), piano, harp, voice (mezzo soprano or baritone), strings. In the first performance of this work the first, second, third and sixth songs were sung by the mezzo soprano Victoria Lambourn. The 4th and 5th songs were sung by the baritone, Shaun Brown.
Duration: 20 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional.
Contents note: 1. Genesis (Subagio Sastrowardoyo) -- 2. Asmaradana (Goenawan Mohamad) -- 3. A Tale Before Sleep (Goenawan Mohamad) -- 4. Nina-Bobok (Goenawan Mohamad) -- 5. Manusia Pertama di Angkasa Luar (First Man in Outer Space) (Subagio Sastrowardoyo) -- 6. Nawang Wulan, Guardian of Earth and Rice (Subagio Sastrowardoyo).
Dedication note: Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University on its Fiftieth Anniversary.
Commission note: Commissioned by Queensland Conservatorium of Music.. Commissioned by Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University, for performance during their 50th anniversary year.
Translation by Dr. Harry Aveling.
The puppet maker, music of Betty Beath
For a long time I had been drawn to the poetry of Subagio Sastrowardoyo. I love the imagination and simplicity in his writing and also his direct approach. Dr. Harry Aveling, in his translation, captures all of these qualities. The Puppet Maker' is a song for voice and piano that I originally scored for voice and orchestra. In that form it was titled 'Genesis,' and was part of a cycle, "Gambar Gambar Jawa", commissioned by the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. - Betty Beath
Performances of this work
23 Aug 13: Conservatorium Theatre, Brisbane, QLD. Featuring Queensland Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra.
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