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Water dreamers : string quartet

by Kevin March (2009)

Water dreamers


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Water dreamers : for string quartet / Kevin March.

Library shelf no. 785.714/MAR 4 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

The first movement, "Harbour Lights" is inspired by the reflection of city and boat lights in Sydney Harbour at night.

"Ghost in the Tide," the second movement and one of two scherzi in the piece, suggests a kind of macabre whirl in 3/4 time that might be danced by harbour ghosts across a choppy bay cloaked in fog.

The title of the third movement, "Mild as a Star in Water," is a line from the John Keats poem Lamia. In the poem it describes the exquisitelydelicate and soft glow of a lamp's light reflected on a marble portico. In the context of Water Dreamers, I have taken it quite literally, imagining the harbour lights (stars) that first nation peoples might have seen reflected in Sydney Harbour 20,000 years ago.

The fourth movement, "Dancing on Whitecaps," is another dance-like scherzo, this time inspired by the interplay of wind and wave.

The final movement, "Always Dreaming of Waves," departs noticeably from the joy and mystique of the previous movements. Its content and title suggest a sentimental yet powerful yearning to return to the coast.

Work Details

Year: 2009

Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello.

Duration: 17 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: I. Harbour lights -- II. Ghost on the tide -- III. Mild as a star in water -- IV. Dancing on whitecaps -- V. Always dreaming of waves.

Dedication note: Dedicated to Ironwood Chamber Ensemble

Commission note: Commissioned by Ironwood Chamber Ensemble.

First performance: by Ironwood Chamber Ensemble — 24 Jul 10. Cockatoo Island, 17th Biennale of Sydney

The theme of and inspiration for the work is the character and timeless nature of the relationship between Australia's coastal environments and its people, and the connection between old worlds and new. Water holds a unique place in the lives of Australians. According to the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 80% of all Australians live within 5km of the coast. Live near the water, we work near the water, and we holiday near the water. We collect water, conserve water, and engage in lengthy debates about how to preserve our water resources. We get reports on our reservoir levels every morning along with the day's weather. For us it is both a luxury and a necessity and it has been this way for a very long time.


Performances of this work

15 May 2011: at Ironwood (Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room). Featuring Ironwood Chamber Ensemble.

25 Jul 10: Cockatoo Island for the 17th Biennale of Sydney, Ironwood Ensemble. Featuring Ironwood Chamber Ensemble.

24 Jul 10: Cockatoo Island, 17th Biennale of Sydney. Featuring Ironwood Chamber Ensemble.

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