The Shape of the Earth : for voice, piano and electronics
by Jack Symonds and Pierce Wilcox (2018)
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The Shape of the Earth : for voice, piano and electronics / music by Jack Symonds ; text by Pierce Wilcox.
Library shelf no. 783.8547/SYM 1 [Available for loan]
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.
Instrumentation: Male voice, piano, electronics.
Duration: 43 min.
Dedication note: Dedicated to Mitchell Riley
Commission note: commissioned by Resonant Bodies Festival, Australia
Performances of this work
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