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Work

The Shape of the Earth : for voice, piano and electronics

by Jack Symonds and Pierce Wilcox (2018)

Shape of the Earth

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Work Overview

This staged song cycle takes as its inspiration Patrick White's iconic novel Voss and reimagines it completely. Librettist Pierce Wilcox and I were concerned not to emulate the epic, heroic tone of the novel (already a Grand Opera by Richard Meale), but rather interrogate its ideas in 21 quizzical miniature songs, reflecting shards of a complex, broken persona. This Voss is an idealist thrown into a world he longs to understand, yet remains always out of reach. The five parts of this work trace a journey from comic disbelief to flayed loneliness, with White's indelible creation hovering just the background.

To make this kind of work in Australia in 2018 requires a loving scepticism of the idea of Romantic, European ambition and an unflinching desire to try to understand how it became a dominant force in 19th and 20th century culture.

Work Details

Year: 2018

Instrumentation: Male voice, piano, electronics.

Duration: 43 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Mitchell Riley

Commission note: commissioned by Resonant Bodies Festival, Australia

First performance: by Mitchell Riley, Zubin Kanga, Benjamin Carey at Resonant Bodies Festival (Carriageworks) on 1 Sep 2018

Subjects

Performances of this work

1 Sep 2018: at Resonant Bodies Festival (Carriageworks). Featuring Mitchell Riley, Zubin Kanga, Benjamin Carey.

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