Symphony No.1 : for string orchestra
by Matthew Dewey (2008)
Also known as: Port Arthur 1996
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The impetus for writing this piece came from a play by Tasmanian writer Tom Holloway called "Beyond the Neck", which premiered in 2007, and on which I was called in at the last minute to work on. The play explored the lives of four characters who had all been affected in profoundly different ways by the Port Arthur massacre of 1996. Although I was initially furious that anyone would dare to discuss the tragedy in such an open way, it quickly occurred to me that Tom's play was actually the first public discussion of the massacre, a matured view delivered with the benefit of time and reflection - upon what is still present in the minds of many Tasmanians, and will likely never be resolved.
In his review of Tom's play, Robert Jarman described it as "a meditation on our common grief and isolation" - and it is this feeling that I used for the greater structure and tone of the piece: The first movement, which desperately seeks responses to questions which can't be answered; the second, a "planh" or lament on the death of a friend; and the third, a more optimistic exploration of feelings and emotions complex and irresolvable. The piece is framed by a short musical phrase that symbolises the ultimately unanswerable question of "why?". The phrase appears only twice during the work - at the very opening of the first movement, and towards the conclusion of the third.
Instrumentation: String orchestra.
Duration: 25 min.
The composer cites as influences on the work: Neo-romantic, Shostakovich, Mahler.
- In the form/style of: Symphonies
Performances of this work
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