The Dividing Ranges : for small orchestra
by Peter McNamara (2005)
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The Dividing Ranges are one of Australia's most dominant and important geographical features. In a country of almost complete flatness, they stretch right along the east coast of Australia and spectre some of Australia's largest cities including Sydney, where the ranges are clearly visible from its western suburbs. The Dividing Ranges also act as a 'division' between the varying landscapes of Australia as well as the lifestyle and psyche of her people. Each landscape that surrounds the Ranges as well as the Ranges themselves is represented by a separate section.
To the west of the ranges lie Australia's arid lands and deserts, a dry and cruel landscape isolated by vast distances. This section of the work possesses a shimmering quality that is representative of the way light is distorted by the extreme heat while 'longing' melodies represent the isolation of this landscape. The ranges themselves provide a landscape of rainforests, dense woodlands and isolated steep cliffs and valleys. They are often harsh and unforgiving as well with a climate that can see both searing heat and snows. This section uses denser textures and has a very 'mountainous' sound; birdcalls are also used in the woodwinds. To the east of the ranges lies the densely populated coastal fringe of Australia's east coast where life flourishes. This is represented by a faster and more 'bustling' tempo, which also leads to the climax of the work.
The Dividing Ranges was written during the composer's residency with the Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney with funds provided by Arts NSW for the Fisher's Ghost Youth Orchestra and their conductor David Griffin. It was first performed at the Sydney Aurora Festival in 2006 and was subsequently performed by the Stonnington Symphony Orchestra in Melbourne, 2007.
Instrumentation: 2 flutes (2nd can be played by oboe), 2 clarinets in B flat, bassoon (2nd optional), trumpet in B flat, trombone, timpani, percussion (2 players), strings (126.96.36.199.1 suggested).
Duration: 8 min.
Difficulty: Medium — Not easy, but appropriate for youth or non-professional orchestras
First performance: 30 Apr 06. Aurora Festival, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney
- Inspired by: Landscape and Nature
Performances of this work
18 Oct 07: Malvern Town Hall, Melbourne
30 Apr 06: Aurora Festival, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney
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