In Defence of Toads (treble voice with chamber ensemble)
by Nicholas Vines (2016)
Performance by William Drury, Callithumpian Consort from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 81
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Library shelf no. CD 2842 [Available for loan]
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It seems only yesterday I was babysitting a toddler-sized Billy Drury, and now he is a new-music soloist! In honour of our long-running connection, I wanted to write something which brought together his interests, my context and the adventures of childhood in general. My search for a text led me to - of all things - the correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, prominent naturalist and protagonist in the British 'discovery' of Australia in 1770. In Defence of Toads is the label I have given to a delightful passage from Banks's letter to one Reverend Samuel Hopkinson, penned nearly forty years after his voyage of discovery to the Pacific. In this excerpt, Banks very earnestly, and thus somewhat comically, attests to the harmlessness, even usefulness of toads. He evokes a youth of inquiry, where wonder and danger go hand in hand, and the courage to make up one's own mind is a given. It is my hope the music communicates all this, and that Billy, musicians and audience alike find here something of their childhood.
Instrumentation: Boy soprano, alto flute, viola, bassoon.
Duration: 4 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Tertiary level with experienced boy soprano
Dedication note: Dedicated to Billy Drury
Commission note: Commissioned by Callithumpian Consort.
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