Petit testament (duos: soprano, mezzo-soprano with piano)
by Elliott Gyger (2008)
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'Petit Testament', the last of the Ern Malley poems, is intimate
and autobiographical in tone, at times veering perilously close
to confessing the bogus nature of the author's identity. My
setting re-enacts James McAuley's and Harold Stewart's dazzling
feat of ventriloquism (two real poets masquerading as one
fictional poet) in employing two voices to project a single
musical line, slipping unpredictably between unison, heterophony
and interior dialogue. The pitch material is derived from musical
ciphers of the three poets' names. Coincidentally, my cipher for
"Ern Malley" - spelled out by the harp at the very beginning -
uses only the notes of a pentatonic scale (Pelog) strongly
Indonesian gamelan music, a common trope in the self-conscious quest for Australian musical identity in the 1960s and 1970s.
Instrumentation: Soprano, mezzo-soprano, piano (or harp).
Duration: 9 min.
First performance: by Halcyon — 1 Sep 09. The Mint, Sydney
Performances of this work
13 Sep 2010: at Where the Heart Is.. a celebration of homegrown music (Carriageworks). Featuring Halcyon.
7 Sep 2010: at Where the Heart Is.. a celebration of homegrown music (Llewellyn Hall ANU School of Music). Featuring Halcyon.
1 Sep 09: The Mint, Sydney. Featuring Halcyon.
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My favourite Australian art song repertoire
Posted by Australian Music Centre on 22 July, 2013
The AMC asked leading practitioners to select their favourite Australian art song repertoire, to provide delegates to the 2013 International Conference of Vocal Teachers (Brisbane 2013) with an introduction to this rich and diverse landscape.
A tour-de-force for both singers and pianist, this work requires great skills in ensemble, intonation and rhythm. Written for the University of Melbourne’s Ern Malley Songs project (http://lyrebirdpress.com/music/australiana/lbp012/), the singers’ lines mirror the two Australian poets who masqueraded as the fictitious poet Ern Malley. At times they present as one voice, singing virtuosic unisons and individual fractured syllables to deliver the text. At others they shadow or comment on each other and share rich melismatic duo lines. While fiercely demanding of the performers it is a very satisfying work to both learn and perform but it does take time to settle into the subtly changing tempos.
Posted by Paul Cutlan  on 15 September, 2010
I really enjoyed Halcyon's performance of this work at Carriage Works. It sounded clear in the space and the timbral ideas really came through in the performance. I was inspired by the use of two voices, the way they punctuated or continued each other, as well as the different dynamic levels, sudden non vibrato notes and hums. Each technique was a way to vary the texture and colour the melodic line, rather than draw attention to itself. It felt like orchestration.