Staring at the sun : for large ensemble
by John Peterson (1998)
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Staring at the Sun is an attempt to translate, in musical terms, my feelings about the flat, arid landscapes of western New South Wales and South Australia, places I first experienced with my family when I was about ten years old. My memories of our travels in these areas remain vivid to me even after the passing of many years. The overwhelming sameness of these flat lands was, to me, never boring and could be endlessly fascinating. Subtle variations (natural and/or man-made) appear when you carefully watch the seemingly unchanging vista that surrounds you. I have tried to capture the essence of these experiences several times in my compositions: in Heartlands (1987, for small ensemble), and especially in Ex Tenebris Lux (1989, for orchestra), and now in Staring at the Sun. All of these pieces are overt representations of my emotional responses to these strangely beautiful landscapes; emotional responses which are influenced by the following three concepts:
1. the power of natural forces
2. loneliness and isolation
3. the beauty of natural formations
In fact, these concepts could be used as sub-titles for the three sections of Staring at the Sun. The opening section, for example, represents the sameness of the flat desert, a landscape basking under a hot sun (literally staring back at the sun) and sometimes caressed by swirling winds. The third section follows on from this idea, with the varying textures and melodic contours representing different physical aspects of the landscape. By way of contrast, the contemplative middle section is inspired by the feelings of loneliness and isolation that can grip visitors to these regions, particularly at night.
Instrumentation: Flute/piccolo, clarinet in B flat, bass clarinet, trumpet in C, violin, viola, cello, piano, percussion (2 players).
Duration: 15 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by Coruscations.. for the 1998 Sydney Spring Festival
Performances of this work
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