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Performance by Gumaroy Newman, The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sarah-Grace Williams from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 128.
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Celestial Emu ("Dhinawan") is a collaboration between
Keyna Wilkins, Gumaroy Newman and The Metropolitan Orchestra.
Although the didgeridoo was originally a sacred ceremonial
instrument for northern First Nation Australians, this ancient
instrument is being heard increasingly in contemporary classical
Australian compositions. This major new work focusses on
intergrating and unifying the sounds of both musical cultures,
while showcasing the virtuosity and diversity of the instrument.
While the orchestral parts are full notated and the didgeridoo
part is only partially notated, with sections of structured
The work is based on the legend of the constellation "Emu In The Sky", from the Kamilaroi people from Northern NSW, where Gumaroy is from. According to Aboriginal legend, emus are creator spirits that fly and look over the land. The constellation appears south of the Southern Cross; the dark cloud between the stars is the head, while the neck, body and legs are formed from dust lanes stretching across the Milky Way The constellation begins to show in March and is fully visibly in April-May, when is appears as if it is running across the sky. In June and July, the appearance of the Emu changes, as the legs disappear. The Emu, which is now male, is sitting on its nest, incubating the eggs. Later in the year, around November, the Emu once again changes appearance and becomes Gawarrgay, a featherless Emu that travels to waterholes and looks after everything that lives there.
The first movement opens with the didgeridoo soloist off stage performing an improvised cadenza-like introduction on the D# didgeridoo. As the soloist walks in, the lower strings enter with enigmatic and haunting melodic fragments and cluster chords, which gradually build to a dramatic climax under the didgeridoo solo. A viola opens the second movement with a Debussy-like slow and ethereal melody, as if in the distance. The C didgeridoo enters and plays a slow and rich melody, in between the viola melody. A waltz emerges with string and woodwinds under a mysterious and meandering lyrical melody. Dialogue between clapsticks and timpani heralds the transition to a song about emu eggs in the indigenous Kamilaroi language, composed by Newman.
The final movement begins with driving 4/4 rhythms in the string section, with woodwinds and brass eventually joining resulting in the full and vibrant sound of the whole orchestra. The F didgeridoo enters improvising along to the 4/4 driving rhythm. After a crescendo and conclusion of the 4/4 section, the didgeridoo has a virtuosic solo. For the ending, the driving rhythms of the initial 4/4 section return, finalising with a large crescendo to reach a fanfare-like climax.
Instrumentation: Didgeridu soloist, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, timpani, strings.
Duration: 20 min.
Contents note: 1. Emu Speaking: DHINAWAN GUWAALI -- 2. Emu Eggs: DHINAWAN GAWU -- 3. Emu Dance: DHINAWAN GAWARRGAY.
Commission note: Commissioned by The Metropolitan Orchestra.
First performance: by Gumaroy Newman, The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sarah-Grace Williams at Classical Dreamtime with the Metropolitan Orchestra (Everest Theatre) on 7 Mar 2020
- In the form/style of: Concertos
Performances of this work
12 Nov 2021: at Classical Dreamtime - Online Watch Party With The Metropolitan Orchestra (Live streaming event (online only)). Featuring Gumaroy Newman, The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sarah-Grace Williams.
7 Mar 2020: at Classical Dreamtime with the Metropolitan Orchestra (Everest Theatre). Featuring Gumaroy Newman, The Metropolitan Orchestra, Sarah-Grace Williams.
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