Divertimento : Nolan's backyard : for string orchestra
by Christopher Willcock (2008)
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Library shelf no. 784.7/WIL 3 [Available for loan]
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'Nolan' in the title refers to the Australian painter Sidney
Nolan, and his 'backyard' is nothing less than the Australian
continent. In 2008 a retrospective of Nolan's paintings travelled
between three galleries in eastern Australia, and the present
work is this composer's response to three paintings in the
exhibition. Starting from Nolan's years growing up in St Kilda
with the mesmerizing presence there of the roller-coaster at Luna
Park (painting: 'Luna Park in the moonlight'), through the
distances and emptiness of the outback in the saga of Burke and
Wills with the earth receiving back the body of one of the
luckless explorers (painting: 'Perished'), to Nolan's return to
the strong early childhood memories of the Goulburn River, now
populated with characters from the Ned Kelly story (painting:
'Riverbend I'), the three movements of Divertimento map the
composer's reactions to the visual associations generated for him
by the paintings but which are called, not by the titles of the
paintings given above, but, respectively, Night Ride; Earth Song;
and River Run.
The writing for string orchestra is triggered not just by the Nolan paintings but also by other associations and allusions, both literary and musical, which sprang into mind when considering the various shapes of the Australian landscape, familiar or alien, that constitute one's own 'backyard'. The full body of strings traces the broader lines of energy, or fantasy, of lament, or memory that are thereby evoked; the small body of soloists acts like a microscope, drawing closer to these experiences with a sharper, keener focus.
Instrumentation: String orchestra.
Duration: 19 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Tertiary student/professional
Contents note: 1. Night ride -- 2. Earth song -- 3. River run.
Performances of this work
21 Feb 2010: at The Bourbaki Ensemble: music for flutes and strings (St Stephen's Church, Newtown). Featuring Bourbaki Ensemble, David Angell.
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