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The Six Swans : SSATB Choir & Piano

by Luke Byrne (2019)

30 Years


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Digital Audio Album

30 Years / Hunter Singers.

Work Overview

Grimm's tales didn't feature prominently in my childhood, and it was only quite recently that I came to them via the Australian author and artist Shaun Tan. In his book 'The Singing Bones' Tan does not simply illustrate or re-tell the stories, but creates a single clay sculpture for each story he chose, accompanied by a short excerpt of text, that captures an essence of "Rapunzel", "Mother Holle" or "The Turnip". To me this was the perfect model for a piece of music inspired by Grimm's.
The Six Swans has a narrative device that is absolutely magical: to save her six brothers a girl must sew shirts from aster flowers ("aster" being derived from the Latin for "star") over six years where she can't speak and she even gives birth in that time! This in turn gave me the idea of using the names of stars woven together in a musical montage to evoke the passing of that time.
I also picked this story because it has a happy end, and my other Grimm's are all rather dark or deathly. The essence I wanted to capture of The Six Swans is the sense of anticipation of the day when all will be well, symbolised by the swans flying home.

Work Details

Year: 2019

Instrumentation: SSATB choir, piano.

Duration: 5 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Virtuosic piano part

Commission note: Commissioned by Hunter Singers.. Commissioned by Hunter Singers for their 30th Birthday Concert

Performances of this work

17 Nov 19: Newcastle City Hall, NSW. Featuring Hunter Singers.

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