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Grey Ghost : for piano and electronics (Music for Tiny Speakers No. 2)

by Miriama Young (2017)

Grey Ghost


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Grey Ghost : piano and fixed media / Miriama Young.

Library shelf no. 786.2/YOU 2 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Grey Ghost is a meditation in piano and electronics drawing on the ancient song of the once prolific North Island Kōkako.

This bird's distinctive call closely resembles that of its possibly extinct South Island cousin, known as 'The Grey Ghost', last officially recorded at Mount Aspiring National Park, 1967.

Loudspeakers should be used to play back the accompanying soundtrack of transformed birdsong. In addition, audience members can stream the soundtrack from their smartphones during concert performance, by following the downbeat of pianist to press 'play'.

Recordings of North Island Kōkako were supplied by the New Zealand Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai. Other bird sounds recorded by the Composer. Thank you to Chamber Music New Zealand, and The University of Melbourne Faculty of Fine Arts & Music for supporting this project. Also, delighted thanks to Jessie Eastwood for recorded vocals.

"We all had Apps on our phones, and [the pianist] gave us an upbeat to play. Because people were scattered through the audience and there were slight differences in the timing, when you pressed play, all of a sudden.... You were in the Cathedral of the bush, with these dreamlike bird sounds.... It made you really, really listen. It was so clever.... I really loved it."

- Fiona McCabe for Radio New Zealand, reviewing Xenia Pestova's Wellington performance (2017).

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Piano (optional vocal part in piano). Together with loudspeaker playback, audience can use smartphones to perform the fixed media soundtrack. The soundtrack can be streamed here, whilst the pianist plays: https://miriamayoung.bandcamp.com/track/grey-ghost-soundtrack-alone

Duration: 11 min.

Difficulty: Medium — Suitable for advanced students or professionals

Commission note: Commissioned by Xenia Pestova.

First performance: by Xenia Pestova — 16 Jul 17. Chamber Music NZ tour, James Cumming Wing

The composer has noted the following styles, genres, influences, etc. associated this work:
Minimalist, electronics, birdsong of New Zealand, new technologies, app. Influences: Radiohead, Moroccan vocal music, Tristan Perich, Ligeti Piano Etudes, Liszt.


Grey Ghost, by Miriama Young


Performances of this work

7 Jun 2019: at Klang Festival: Rolf Hind (Koncertkirken (Copenhagen)). Featuring Rolf Hind.

31 May 2019: at Grey Ghost - performance by Aura Go (Orange Regional Conservatorium). Featuring Aura Go.

20 May 2019: at Grey Ghost performance by Aura Go (Scots All Saints - Music Academy (Bathurst)). Featuring Aura Go.

7 Jul 18: Gender Diversity in Music Making Conference, Drama Theatre, Monash University

31 Mar 2018: at Piano Day (Union Chapel (Islington)).

6 Aug 17: Chamber Music NZ tour, Warkworth Town Hall, Warkworth, New Zealand. Featuring Xenia Pestova.

4 Aug 17: Chamber Music NZ tour, Concert Chamber, Rotorua. Featuring Xenia Pestova.

30 Jul 17: Chamber Music NZ tour, St Andrew's, The Terrace, Wellington. Featuring Xenia Pestova.

23 Jul 17: Chamber Music NZ tour, Graham Young Youth Theatre, Tauranga NZ. Featuring Xenia Pestova.

22 Jul 17: Chamber Music NZ tour, St George & St John, Whakatane. Featuring Xenia Pestova.

16 Jul 17: Chamber Music NZ tour, James Cumming Wing. Featuring Xenia Pestova.

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