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We Dwell Alone (soprano with chamber orchestra)

by Brad Gill (2017)

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The Australian Music Centre's catalogue does not include any recordings or sheet music of this work. This entry is for information purposes only.

It is listed in our catalogue because an event featuring a performance of this work was included in our calendar of Australian music. Details of this performance are listed below.

Work Overview

The text for this song is the sixty second of the Theragāthā (verses of the elders), enlightenment poems attributed to, or celebrating the first generations of Buddhist monks. I was particularly attracted to the image of peaceful dwelling in nature apart from the world with its concerns and ugliness, along with the actual sound of the Pali text, beginning: 'Ekaka mayam aranne viharama'. Very interesting to me also is the conceited tone of the second half of the poem, the assumption that one's achievements are the focus of envy, that one is happier or even better than people immured in ordinary day-to-day affairs. I've adopted a critical humanistic interpretation of this poem (inspired in part by the same approach taken by my favourite Australian artist, Arthur Boyd, in exploring the life of St Francis of Assisi in a series of works in various media).

This is the second of what will be a set of five 'Pali Songs', all Theragāthā, and all set in the Pali language and responding to imagery I find personally inspiring, and all humanistically interrogating aspects of the tone and sensibility of the texts. The songs are also attempts at authentically integrating my creative work with a renewed phase of personal exploration of and engagement with Taoist and Buddhist practice and philosophy. In this work, various degrees of freedom and opportunities for context-driven improvisation bringing to bear the collective musicianship and focus of the performers is a focus, along with subtle and nuanced attention to timbre, 'sound-shaping', and a continued compositional exploration of flowing and overlapping 'harmonic landscapes'.

My own English version of the Pali original follows.

We dwell alone in the forest

Like a log rejected in the woods.

Many envy me,

Like beings living in hell might

Envy someone soaring to heaven

(Brad Gill 2017)

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Soprano voice, bass flute, vibraphone.

Duration: 7 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Entails improvisation and microtonal singing

Commission note: Commissioned by Sideband.

First performance: by Sideband at Sideband: Voce (Mosman Art Gallery and Community Centre) on 6 Aug 2017


Performances of this work

6 Aug 2017: at Sideband: Voce (Mosman Art Gallery and Community Centre). Featuring Sideband.

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