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Catalogue des Errances Bibliques : Symphony in No Need of an Orchestra, for mixed keyboards, percussion and narrator

by Michael Kieran Harvey (2018, this version: 2019)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

From the CD Catalogue des Errances Bibliques

Selected products featuring this work — Display all products (4 more)

Display all products featuring this work (4 more)  

Work Overview

"You can't run a country

By a book of religion

Not by a heap

Or a lump or a smidgeon

Of foolish rules

Of ancient date

Designed to make

You all feel great

While you fold, spindle

And mutilate

Those unbelievers

From a neighbouring state"

Frank Zappa, "Dumb All Over" (1981)

It came as a delicious and furtive surprise to me as an 8-year-old altar boy to discover that Christ's blood tasted, apparently, the same as the Woodley's Cream Sherry I found in the sacristy. This set me wondering about the veracity of the contents of the Bible, something that Catholics are instructed to believe is the infallible word of God. It takes a certain type of dogged personality to be willing to sift through such a text for either fallibilities or infallibilities - most Christians simply accept what clerics tell them is in the bible and get on with their busy lives.
Happily, C. Dennis McKinsey devoted much of his life and his energies as a broadcaster to the task of uncovering "biblical errancy", and his forensic book The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Prometheus Books, 1995) is the result. In the spirit of the musical The Book of Mormon (Parker/Lopez/Stone, 2011) and with an affectionate nod to Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux (1958), Catalogue des Errances Bibliques whimsically reinterprets each of the 25 chapters of The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy as a homage to its punctilious author. In keeping with McKinsey's low-budget resourcefulness, Catalogue des Errances Bibliques is scored not for symphony orchestra, but for two nondescript keyboards.

There is also a re-interpretation of the work for nondescript keyboards and percussion. The text Bible Stories was composed specifically for this version by Dr Arjun von Caemmerer. (MKH).

Work Details

Year: 2018, this version: 2019

Instrumentation: Spoken voice, keyboards (min 8 players: 2 Grand Pianos; at least 4 full-keyboard synthesizers/electric pianos; Theremin, harpsichord and celeste or similar electronic sounds) ; percussion (min 4 players: 2x Timpani, snare drum, tenor drum, bass drum, cymbals, drum set, electronic/latin drum set, tubular bells, glockenspiel, marimba, vibraphone (with bow), 5x log drums (or tom-toms), anvil, 5x temple blocks, high and low gongs, tam-tam, swanee whistle or sim, crotales (D, F, F#, A), ratchet, large frame drum/dumbeck (amplified), strings (optional): electric bass, amplified cello (both can be substituted with keyboards if necessary).

Duration: 65 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Virtuosic writing, high ensemble synchronisation and improvising skill required

Dedication note: Dedicated to Arjun Von Caemmerer

Commission note: Commissioned by RMIT Sonic Arts Collection.

First performance: 25 May 19. Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Jazz-rock, "avant-pop", alternative rock genres: Spike Jones, Frank Zappa, John Zorn, Eastern European rock.

Performances of this work

25 May 19: Performance also including student performers, Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne. Featuring Timothy Young, Michael Kieran Harvey.

25 May 2019: at Symphony in no need of orchestra (South Melbourne Town Hall). Featuring Michael Kieran Harvey, Timothy Young, Peter Neville, Arjun Von Caemmerer, Lawrence Harvey, ANAM Musicians.

25 May 19: Australian National Academy of Music, Melbourne

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