Dinner dances : for string quintet
by Tim Dargaville (2004)
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In 2004 I was commissioned by the Melbourne Theatre Company to provide music for the production of "Dinner" by English playwright Moira Buffini. The play, essentially a very black comedy of manners, is set around a large dinner table containing several courses of disgustingly inedible food. As the invited guests dissect each other in polite (and not so polite) conversation whilst trying to digest the primordial slime soup entrée and the frozen waste dessert, we learn that the storyline to "Dinner" has some very dark and disturbing twists. Humour is used to deliver some nasty existential punches, as we witness how the hosts despise each other, how a vegetarian guest is forced to kill and then eat her main course, and how the waiter reveals himself to be a hired assassin.
The music for this production of "Dinner" was conceived to be a series of short interludes interspersed between scenes, sometimes allowing for reflection, sometimes ramping up the drama. The six pieces, originally scored for string quintet, are intended to be strangely familiar, but with unexpected twists and turns, as if they were recorded background music being influenced by the action. In the version of "Dinner Dances" for string orchestra, I have taken the same material from the original quintet, and reorchestrated it, treating it spatially within the ensemble, exploring conversational patterns that are so much a part of the original play.
Instrumentation: 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass.
Duration: 10 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by the Melbourne Theatre Company for the production of Moira Buffini's black comedy 'Dinner'.
First performance: 2004. Performed during premiere season of the play 'Dinner', at Fairfax Studio, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, April/May 2004
Resonate article: Arcko Symphonic Project - Pulling Strings by Mark Viggiani
Performances of this work
2004: Performed during premiere season of the play 'Dinner', at Fairfax Studio, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, April/May 2004
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