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Runner of light : for string orchestra and didjeridu

by Eve Christina Duncan

Audio Sample

Performance by Mark Knoop, Amos Roach, ANAM String Ensemble from the CD Curiosities

Work Overview

Runner of Light explores the confrontation of the spirituality of Australian Aboriginal people with the materialistic culture brought to Australia by European settlers. The spirituality of land is imaged in the music as the Rainbow Serpent, as a swiftly moving, vital runner of spiritual light that crossed from the Dreamtime into the testing times of early European settlement in Australia .

My friend Tom Baxter was the father in a family with a grandmother who was a part of a group that walked out of the Great Sandy Desert in the 1960s, having had no previous contact with European- Australian culture. Tom said that his children's grandmother until that point had numerical language solely for "one", "two" and "many". I express this lack of arithmetic in Aboriginal culture in the music by the use of uneven and indivisible time signatures of 13/16 and 11/16. The divisible 2/4 time signatures represent the European culture with its monetary system, that leads to economic life and a materialism that is often at odds with spiritual Aboriginal culture.

Runner of Light was commissioned by Australian aboriginal musician Tom E. Lewis for his F# didjeridu. The didjeridu is Australia's most well known First Nations instrument. It was premiered with Tiger Snake, by the National Academy of Music string orchestra and didjeridu performer Amos Roach, for the Australian Centenary of Federation celebrations in 2001 in the South Melbourne Town Hall. Runner of Light was performed at the Asian Composers League Festival and Conference in Seoul, Korea in 2002 for string quintet, with contrabass taking the didjeridu part.


Work Details

Instrumentation: Didjeridu in F sharp, string orchestra.

Duration: 6 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to First Nations didjeridu player Tom E. Lewis

Commission note: Commissioned by First Nations didjeridu player Tom E. Lewis in 2000


Resonate article: Eve Duncan’s Butterfly Modernism by Corrina Bonshek

Performances of this work

Unknown date: featuring Mark Knoop, Amos Roach, ANAM String Ensemble.

13 Oct 2018: at Tieng rung (The Sound of the Jungle) (Church of All Nations). Featuring Monash University Flute Ensemble.

12 Oct 2018: at Tieng rung (The Sound of the Jungle) (Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music - Building 68, Music Auditorium). Featuring Monash University Flute Ensemble.

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