Enter your username and password

Forgotten your username or password?

Your Shopping Cart

There are no items in your shopping cart.


Cantor : soprano with ensemble

by Lisa Illean (2017)

No products are available for this work

The Australian Music Centre's catalogue does not include any recordings or sheet music of this work. This entry is for information purposes only.

It is listed in our catalogue because an event featuring a performance of this work was included in our calendar of Australian music. Details of this performance are listed below.

Work Overview

"…their newness is contained in an extraordinary lucidity…"[1]

I was drawn to the directness and simplicity of this text. Cather herself speaks of an impulse towards "finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole…"

I draw on three of Cather's early poems, all set in twilight. Two main songs Stirring and Closing follow in the traditions of the aubade and the nocturne by being set at dawn and evening. In these texts Cather's descriptions of the natural world-of light, water and sounds-are beautifully rendered. Breathing sounds and gestures permeate Cantor, and recurring flaring patterns evoke glowing shafts of light.

Cantor superimposes cycles of lines, waves or impulses, creating a convergence of layers composed of simple elements: musically, the texture is like a tableau upon which the voice carves its line. In Cantor the woman's voice is gentle but resilient, as she contemplates her surroundings, contends with loneliness and finds peace in solitude. Bearing solitude gracefully is a recurring theme: in atmosphere, Cantor is by turns desolate and intimate. At times the music should be sung or played with spontaneity, as if it is being improvised to oneself. The text for Closing is littered with 'm' and 'n' phonemes, recalling mormorando and the use of the voice to soothe and comfort.

© Lisa Illean, September 2017

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Soprano, flute (doubling alto flute), clarinet in Bb, piano, percussion (1 player), violin, viola, cello, double bass.

Duration: 15 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Prelude -- II. Stirring -- III. Interlude -- IV. Stealing -- V. Interlude -- VI. Closing -- VII. L'Envoi.

Commission note: The creation of 'Cantor' was generously supported by the 2016 APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund

First performance: by Ensemble Offspring at Who Dreamed It? - Ensemble Offspring (Carriageworks) on 23 Sep 2017

Cantor represented Australia at the 2018 International Rostrum of Composers.

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2018 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Instrumental Winner Lisa Illean


Resonate article: 2018 Art Music Awards - comments by judging panels by Australian Music Centre

Resonate article: Lisa Illean and Cantor by Anni Heino


Cantor, by Lisa Ilean, after texts by Willa Cather

Performed by Ensemble Offspring and Jessica Aszodi at Carriageworks, September 2017. Created with the generous support of the 2016 APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund.


Performances of this work

22 Sep 19: CBSO Centre, Birmingham UK. Featuring Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

27 Apr 19: Wuwuying Contemporary Music Platform, Taiwan International Festival of Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Featuring Lin Liao, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble.

22 Feb 19: St John’s Waterloo, London.. Featuring Ensemble x.y.

18 Nov 18: Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, Victoria, Canada.. Featuring Aventa ensemble.

24 Oct 18: Hannah Playhouse, Wellington, NZ. . Featuring Stroma Ensemble.

5 Jul 18: Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta Canada. Featuring Alice Teyssier, Julia Tai.

23 Sep 2017: at Who Dreamed It? - Ensemble Offspring (Carriageworks). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

User reviews

Be the first to share your thoughts, opinions and insights about this work.

To post a comment please login.