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Gallipoli Sensings : for wind trio

by Christopher Sainsbury (2015)

Work Overview

This is a work for low woodwind trio of bass clarinet (doubling on clarinet), French Horn and bassoon exploring sensations (me as a removed composer 'sensing' things), around different parts of the experience of the Gallipoli campaign 100 years ago. It is a short work of three movements.

The 'first sensing' explores the foreboding that soldiers may have known in approaching a battle area, and equally the foreboding that many mothers experienced knowing their young sons were soon to be engaged in battle. It uses long and low tightly voiced chords, and pushes the instruments into their lower extremes. Long notes allow us to hear the various players vibrato at different rates, suggestive of the soldiers' breath, their concerns, or perhaps even the boat engines on the Mediterranean carrying them to the Turkish shores.

The 'second sensing' is meant to be the romantic lure of the Turkish land (and I use a Kurdi scale) and features the lyrical bass clarinet, and is an interesting worldly, and even romantic but sad sensation compared to that of the first sensing. Also, as an Aboriginal composer (Darug/Eora) I use this scale in a ceremonial sense. Specifically I suggest the scale 'sings the fallen' into belonging on new shores and being embraced by the land in which they fell, and by its peoples.

Finally in the 'third sensing' I create a parody on a single phrase from Australia Will Be There, by WW Francis - a popular song from 1915 to rally Australians to support the war. It starts fun and confident and reflects a typical attitude for many who signed up, and Australian confidence in general at the time. Interrupting this are odd uses of instruments to suggest the dangerous, the strange, the cacophonous, the unknown, and the ridiculous. The piece has no recapitulation, it is not meant to resolve, but to stay as if 'in the field', with a falling over sense at the end. It fragments into nothing, and is not a happy ending.

Work Details

Year: 2015

Instrumentation: Bass clarinet (doubling clarinet), french horn, bassoon.

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Low French horn specialist preferred

Contents note: I. Sensing No. 1 -- II. Sensing No. 2 -- III. Sensing No. 3.

Commission note: Commissioned by curator Meredith Brice for the Contemporary Gallipoli Exhibition at Macquarie Gallery, Macquarie University, 2015

First performance: at Contemporary Gallipoli 2015 (Macquarie University Art Gallery) on 8 Apr 2015


Resonate article: Christopher Sainsbury: spotlighting the missing voice by Jodie Blackshaw


Performances of this work

2018: Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Katoomba NSW

8 Apr 2015: at Contemporary Gallipoli 2015 (Macquarie University Art Gallery).

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