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First light at Uluru : for wind symphony

by Katia Beaugeais (2015, this version: 2016)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Royal Australian Navy Band, Sydney, Steven Stanke, William Barton from the CD Spirit of Place

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Spirit of Place


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Work Overview

First Light at Uluru has received numerous performances throughout Europe and Australia. This piece is inspired by the spectacular sunrise over Uluru - Australia's most famous icon. Also known as Ayers Rock, it is a giant red rock in the middle of Australia's red desert. Uluru means 'Earth Mother' and is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The 8.6 square kilometre rock is believed to hold a powerful energy source and marks the place where Dreamtime began.
First Light at Uluru conveys the Aboriginal significance and sacred earth of Uluru. 'Didgeridoo-like' vibrato sounds and atmospheric wind sound effects depict the characteristic wind gusts of Uluru and symbolise the cultural significance and spiritual atmosphere of this powerful landmark. As the sun slowly rises, soft, dream-like melodies gradually build up to chorale-like passages, exploring the beautiful, lyrical sounds of the ensemble. At dawn, the giant red rock changes colour and produces an illuminating red and orange glow. Contemporary playing techniques enhance the giant red rock's illuminating red and orange glowing sunrise, illustrating the unique palette of colours of the saxophone orchestra and wind symphony version. Extended techniques featured in this work showcase how avant-garde effects can create calm, expressive and atmospheric passages.

Work Details

Year: 2015, this version: 2016

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes (divisi), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 3 clarinets in B flat (divisi), bass clarinet/contra bass clarinet, 2 bassoon, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C (divisi),  2 trombones, bass trombone, 2 euphoniums, 2 tubas, double bass, harp, timpani, percussion (3 players), 2 wind machines.

Duration: 11 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Matt Klohs, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, John Lynch.. Commissioned by Dr John Lynch & the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and Matt Klohs.

First performance: by Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony, John Lynch at Katia Beaugeais: First Light at Uluru (Verbrugghen Hall) on 24 Sep 2016

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Aboriginal inspiration - Clap sticks, Didgeridoo-like sounds and wind machine. Uluru's sunrise portrayed through colours, timbres and textural effects of wind symphony. Contemporary playing techniques: ‘Air vibrato’ wind sounds depict the wind gusts characteristic of Uluru. Saxophone multiphonics

First Light at Uluru for wind symphony was commissioned by Dr John Lynch and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, as well as Matt Klohs for a premiere performance at the ANBOC Festival on 24 September 2016 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Originally composed for the Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra in 2015 for performances in Paris, Strasbourg and England, First Light at Uluru has been recreated into a new work of its own, showcasing the wind symphony in a new and innovative way.

The aim of this new version is to further convey the Aboriginal significance and sacred earth of Uluru through the wind symphony instrumental possibilities. ‘Didgeridoo-like’ vibrato sounds in the tuba and atmospheric wind sound effects depict the characteristic wind gusts of Uluru. Soothing ‘air vibrato’ wind sounds from the saxophone orchestra version have been recomposed for each instrument (ranging from the piccolo to the tuba), requiring certain players to invert their mouthpiece upside down and blow air into the opposite end. A fusion of colouristic effects develop into a loud collage-like textural sound mass to portray the red rock’s illuminating changes of colour at dawn, exploring the unique sound world of the wind symphony.


First light at Uluru
First Light at Uluru for Wind Symphony
Katia Beaugeais and Dr John Lynch discuss the Aboriginal inspiration, composition and collaborative process of First Light at Uluru for Wind Symphony


Performances of this work

8 Feb 2020: at Beaugeais's First Light at Uluru by Japan Ground Self Defense Force Central Band (Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre). Featuring Takahiro Higuchi, Japan Ground Self Defense Force Central Band.

29 May 2019: at First Light at Uluru (The Ian Potter Southbank Centre). Featuring Kevin Cameron, Melbourne Conservatorium Wind Symphony.

17 May 2018: at Portraits at an Exhibition (National Portrait Gallery). Featuring Michael Duke, SCM Saxophone Orchestra.

16 Jul 2017: at 100 Sax (Melba Hall).

5 Nov 2016: at Adelaide Wind Orchestra: Hopes and Dreams (Elder Hall). Featuring John Lynch, Adelaide Wind Orchestra.

24 Sep 2016: at Katia Beaugeais: First Light at Uluru (Verbrugghen Hall). Featuring John Lynch, Sydney Conservatorium Wind Symphony.

23 Nov 2015: at Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra CD Launch (Basil Jones Orchestral Hall). Featuring Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra, Diana Tolmie.

14 Oct 2015: at Katia Beaugeais: First Light at Uluru (Verbrugghen Hall). Featuring Sydney Conservatorium of Music Saxophone Orchestra.

10 Jul 15: XVII World Saxophone Congress (Place Kléber), Strasbourg, France

2015: England. Featuring Royal Northern College of Music Saxophone Orchestra.

2015: Selmer Saxophone Showrooms, Paris

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