A singing quilt (mixed choir with chamber ensemble and pre-recorded sound)
by Andrew Ford (2008)
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Library shelf no. CD 2006 [Available for loan]
The starting point for this piece was a series of interviews I conducted in early 2008 with eleven residents of the New South Wales Southern Highlands. Let me name them in the order in which their voices appear in the piece: Elio Pezzella of Moss Vale, Anni Heino of Robertson, Hank Vandepol of Welby, Owen Conlan of Robertson, Gordon Lewis (at the time, Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire Council), Velma Mulcahy of Welby, Jan Alcock of Mittagong, Jill Chauncey of Moss Vale, Ian Bowie of Bowral, Lily Hepher of Mittagong, and Jessica Lean of Bundanoon. Some of these people were born in the Southern Highlands, some had arrived from other parts of Australia, some from other countries. As much as anything, I was interested in their early memories and first impressions of the place. In A Singing Quilt, we hear short excerpts from these interviews, including, at the very end, the first four speakers returning to describe their new locations in their native languages: Italian, Finnish, Dutch and Irish.
Having edited the interviews, I took some of the words and set them to music. In fact all the words the choir sings come from these interviews. Most of the choral writing in the piece is canonic. That's to say the singers divide into three, four and frequently six parts to sing the same melodies out of phase, in canons or rounds. This was a way of creating a rich musical texture out of fairly simple material, but it also felt (in my mind, at least) like travelling across an expansive landscape.
The final element in A Singing Quilt is the percussion ensemble: five players playing cymbals, wind-chimes and rain sticks, drums (bongos, congas and tom-toms) and tuned percussion (marimba, vibraphone, tubular bells, Thai gongs and hand bells).
A Singing Quilt was commissioned by Wingecarribee Shire Council with financial assistance from the Regional Arts Fund, an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia. The driving force behind the project was Jenny Kena, the council's Community and Cultural Development Officer, and the title of the piece was her idea.
Instrumentation: SATB choir, percussion (5 players).
Duration: 24 min.
Performances of this work
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