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Conflagration : The Tasmanian bushfires, summer, 2018-19: A Cantata in 8 episodes

by John Honey and Don Kay (2019)

Work Overview

'My wife Maria and I have lived in the southern Tasmanian bush since 2001. In the summers since then we've been very bushfire-aware, keeping our eyes on the weather, the fire conditions, and the Tasmanian Fire-Service website. We're always packed, ready to evacuate if necessary. Like other bush dwellers, we've watched the progress of fires occurring around the state, and tried to learn from them.
The fires of summer 2018-19 behaved radically differently from anything we've seen in almost two decades, and raised the question of whether or not they marked a pivot point, a transition into a new epoch of climate-change related fire behaviour threatening the fundamental well-being of the benign island we love, and reflecting the recent mega-fires in the northern hemisphere.
Fearing this to be the case I was moved to write an account of the fires, emphasising the new factors that seemed to me to set them apart from fires past. As is my habit these days, I wrote this account with musical setting in mind - setting by Don Kay in particular - in the hope that he would share my belief in the importance of making a potent artistic statement about a local event with universal ramifications. And of course, he did, and the result is 'Conflagration'; a large-scale work appropriate for a subject of large-scale importance to us all.'


Note by John Honey

Work Details

Year: 2019

Instrumentation: SATB soloists, SATB chorus, 2 pianos, percussion (6 players).

Duration: 36 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to firefighter, householder, anyone in the fire's "many paths"


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