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Silva : percussion concerto

by Mary Finsterer (2012)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Ensemble Offspring from the CD Offspring Bites 1

Offspring Bites 1


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Offspring Bites 1 / Ensemble Offspring.

Library shelf no. CD 2907 [Available for loan]



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Silva : percussion concerto / Mary Finsterer.

Library shelf no. 785.3416/FIN 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Silva derives from Latin, meaning forest, and provides the inspiration for this percussion concerto. With an aim to give different impressions of the forest, the work opens with an atmospheric ambience, giving a feeling of largeness through space and time. It looks out, as if to experience the forest through layers of branches and leaves, these represented by the whimsical, faster moving soft gestures of the woodwinds and string harmonics.

The second section emerges in stark contrast. With the earthy timbres of the tom toms set against the vibraphone, this section aims to give an impression of the forest from a completely different perspective. If the first section represents the leaves and branches and openness of the sky, then this section signifies the timber and soil that beds the forest, highlighting the percussion as other instruments work to create the harmonic layers.

The structure of the work takes a traditional form - a simple ABA structure. The first section reflects the work I have been developing since my orchestral work In Praise of Darkness, where the idea of memory is played out with recurring thematic fragments inspired by Tallis's Spem in alium and Schubert's Death and the Maiden.

The harmonic treatment of the work originates from two sources, the quotes I have mentioned and the language I have been developing from research into the Renaissance period for an opera on which I am working. My aim is for the overall effect to not to be too direct or leading. For this reason I avoid using one major or minor mode, instead opting for an interchangeable 3rd degree note within the scale.

The idea of the forest has always figured high in our collective consciousness. Through the stories we first heard as children, the forest plays on our imagination as a place of wonder, escape, danger and adventure. In many folk tales the forest is even seen as forbidden - a place full of mystery and shadows.

In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson,

'It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.'


Work Details

Year: 2012

Instrumentation: Flute, clarinet in Bb, piano, violin, cello, percussion.

Duration: 16 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Claire Edwardes

Commission note: Commissioned by Ensemble Offspring with funds provided by Australia Council. Music Board.

First performance: by Ensemble Offspring at Ensemble Offspring (Sydney Opera House - Utzon Room) on 23 Oct 2012

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Renaissance music, contemporary classical music.

Performances of this work

28 Nov 2017: at Merlyn Myer Music Commission 2017: Andrea Keller (Salon - Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

3 May 2017: at CIMF 2017: Half the Sky (National Portrait Gallery). Featuring Claire Edwardes, Ensemble Offspring.

21 Aug 2016: at Broken Consorts (Ngeringa Cultural Centre). Featuring Ironwood Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Offspring.

21 Mar 2016: at Australian Voices: Mary Finsterer (Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring ANAM Musicians.

20 Sep 2015: at Ensemble Offspring: Shanghai New Music Week (Shanghai Conservatory of Music). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

1 Mar 2015: at Broken Consorts (Newcastle Museum). Featuring Ensemble Offspring, Ironwood Chamber Ensemble.

28 Feb 2015: at Broken Consorts (Sydney Opera House - Utzon Room). Featuring Ironwood Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Offspring.

23 Feb 2015: at Broken Consorts (fortyfivedownstairs). Featuring Ironwood Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Offspring.

21 Feb 2015: at Broken Consorts (Burnie Regional Art Gallery). Featuring Ironwood Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Offspring.

20 Feb 2015: at Broken Consorts (Baha'i Centre). Featuring Ensemble Offspring, Ironwood Chamber Ensemble.

27 Oct 2012: at Ensemble Offspring (Turbine Hall). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

23 Oct 2012: at Ensemble Offspring (Sydney Opera House - Utzon Room). Featuring Ensemble Offspring.

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