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Immortal fire (multiple choirs)

by David Tunley (1999)

Immortal fire


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Immortal fire / David Tunley.

Library shelf no. 782.55542/TUN 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

This short work, incorporates fragments of music and text from two different musical cultures. The first of these is from the earliest known music from classical Greek times, the words and music carved into a stone at Delphi. Thought to date from 140 BC it is a hymn to Phoebus who represented the sun, healing, prophecy and music. The other is an Aboriginal children's song, composed and sung by the late Joe Prater for a children's play ceremony. The two chants are woven into an original composition. In bringing them together Immortal Fire symbolises in music that fire of the mind, of the heart and of compassion, which has illuminated Western medicine from earliest times and placed at the service of Australian children of all backgrounds. At the climax of the work the children enter on a high note, like a cry for help, their song no longer carefree and playful, but broken and troubled - until taken into the warm embrace of the final chord.

Work Details

Year: 1999

Instrumentation: Mixed choir (SATB) and 2 part children's choir.

Duration: 6 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Mixed choir presents some rhythmic intricacies, but the children's choir is very simple

Dedication note: For Fiona Stanley

Commission note: Commissioned for the Official Opening of the TVW Child Health Centre in Perth


Immortal Fire draws on two texts:
1. Delphic Hymn (c. 138 B.C.), first published in modern notation in Th. Reinach, La musique grecque (1926). Professor Brian Bosworth of the Department of Classics at the University of Western Australia helped the composer with the text and its possible modern pronunciation, rendered phonetically in the score.

2. Children’s Playsong, an Australian Aboriginal children’s song made up of nonsense syllables published with permission by Professor Margaret Kartomi of Monash University.


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