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The scattering of light : piano quartet

by Andrew Ford (2010)

Work Overview

The Scattering of Light was commissioned by the University of Queensland to mark its centenary, and so I tried to find a title and rationale for the piece that would link it to the anniversary and celebrate what all the best universities do: namely, send their learning out into the world. The metaphor of light came early and seemed especially appropriate for a university with its main campus in the Brisbane suburb of St Lucia, but I chanced on the actual title in Ian McEwan's novel, Solar.

There are various musical analogies for teaching and learning in the piece, none of which, I hope, is necessary for an understanding or appreciation of the music. These include the way in which different instruments take it in turns to lead the ensemble, while the others challenge, modify or expand on the musical propositions. In the last few minutes of the piece, the music becomes rather simple with a transparent texture, and I would like to think it gives off its own light. Here the 'leading' instrument is the piano, its simple, 'reasonable' line consisting mainly of a gently repeated B flat. Then in the final seconds of the piece, all four instruments suddenly go their individual ways, scattering their music as they go.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: Violin, viola, cello, piano.

Duration: 16 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: To the alumni of the University of Queensland, past, present and future, who scatter the light of their learning across the globe.

Commission note: Commissioned by University of Queensland.. to mark its centenary.

First performance: 10 Dec 10. Customs House, Brisbane

Performances of this work

2 Mar 2021: at Adam McMillan, Madeleine Jevons, Eunise Cheng & Daniel Smith (Melbourne Recital Centre, Elisabeth Murdoch Hall). Featuring Adam McMillan, Madeleine Jevons, Eunise Cheng, Daniel Smith.

10 Dec 10: Customs House, Brisbane

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