Three pieces of Frederick A. Packer : concert band
by Frederick Alexander Packer, Frederick Augustus Packer and Simon Reade (2016)
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Library shelf no. 784.83/REA 1 [Available for loan]
These pieces date from the early colonial period of Tasmanian history. The Packer family arrived in Hobart Town in 1852, the same year that transportation finished, so the period was the start of marked change in the attitudes of our early Tasmania, working toward the formation of a workable society.
I initially arranged these piano pieces for wind quintet as preparation for this slightly longer score. I have retained the wind quintet as a concertante group - the wind quintet represent the sort of light music composed by many in the 19th century, and these pieces are definitely representative of that sort of music. The band changes its role as the piece progresses. I was partially influenced by Peter Sculthorpe's work, Port Essington, in using the concertante to represent one sort of music (and society) and the ensemble to represent another. The work was written for a concert of 'Tasmanian' composers - and referencing Tasmania's most famous musical son certainly felt appropriate.
The first piece, The Volunteer Polka by Packer Snr., is presented in traditional Concerto Grosso style - in my mind were the wonderful and surprising Concerto Grossi of Alfred Schnittke. I wanted to muddy the respectable music of the quintet - in the same way the good name of the Packer's was muddied by Charles. Charles was a very talented composer - from all reports more so than either Frederick. But he was a crook, and made his journey to Australia as a convict. I have used the tutti to create the muddiness through echoes and pedal points.
The second piece, Curacoa Valse by Packer Jnr., starts with the quintet alone, but very quickly transforms and is distracted. The music gets caught and then becomes something completely new. I subtitle this movement 'Interlude - in memoriam Peter Sculthorpe'. Sculthorpe was born in Launceston, Tasmania - also my birthplace - and I wanted to mark his passing in 2014 with a short memorial. I have inserted this music into the Valse - it develops from Packer's material, quotes some of the music of lament from Sculthorpe's Memento Mori, before an unexpected close - at which point the piano offstage takes over finishing the Valse, as if nothing had happened. The music gradually (and surprisingly) returns to Packer's original key choice for the waltz of D major - but I subvert this simplicity by making some cuts and forcing the music to end on the dominant. Both of the Packer Jnr. works are simple salon pieces, but with some odd quirks of harmony and form. My alteration of the music seeks to amplify these oddities.
The third and final piece, The Garrison Polka by Packer Jun., is unchanged (well, almost). The quintet and the various unusual groupings impatiently swap exchanges before the set of pieces end with a flourish - and finally as they were intended all along, simply, Three Pieces of Frederick A. Packer.
Instrumentation: Solo flute, solo oboe, solo clarinet in Bb, solo horn in F, solo bassoon, piccolo, 2 flutes, oboe, bassoon, 3 clarinets in Bb, bass clarinet in Bb, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 3 trumpets in Bb, 2 horns in F, 2 tenor trombones , bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, piano (optional, mvt. II only), double bass, timpani, percussion (2 players).
Duration: 10 min.
Difficulty: Medium — Wind quintet parts are at a higher level of performance difficulty, but still within the reach of good amateur players
Contents note: The Volunteer Polka -- Curacoa Valse ('Interlude - in memoriam Peter Sculthorpe') -- The Garrison Polka.
Commission note: Commissioned by Derwent Valley Concert Band.
Performances of this work
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