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Fourth alarm : overture for orchestra

by Natalie Williams (2002)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

Performance by George Ellis, Sydney Youth Orchestra from the CD Works, 1999-2005

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Selected works by AMC represented artists, vol. 31.


This item is not commercially available from the Australian Music Centre. We regret that we cannot offer it for sale.


Selected works by AMC represented artists, vol. 31.

Library shelf no. CD 2448 [On loan, due 30/4/24]

Fourth alarm


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Fourth alarm : overture for orchestra / Natalie Williams.

Library shelf no. Q 784.21892/WIL 2 [Available for loan]

Display all products featuring this work (2 more)  

Work Overview

Fourth Alarm is a concert overture for large orchestra. The music in this piece synthesizes two elements; a short military tune and my response and depiction of the musical idea of a Fourth Alarm. Parts of the melodic material in Fourth Alarm were drawn from military music and specifically, from a set of Alarm Signals for trumpet (or bugle) which signal a response to alarm or a call to arms. From a small source book entitled; Trumpet & Bugle Calls for the Australian Army (1916) by Captain WG Bently ARCM, I took a short six bar Alarm field call for mounted troops & infantry. The same short tune serves also as a fire alarm and a routine call for cavalry. Consisting of a repeated dotted rhythmic figure in major and minor thirds, this motive can be frequently heard in the brass, particularly trumpets, throughout Fourth Alarm. Although most modern emergency services do not utilise this repertoire of alarm signals, I have used the theme as a reference to the origins of the Fourth Alarm as an incident response procedure.

Work Details

Year: 2002

Instrumentation: 3 flutes (1st doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 3 clarinets in B flat (3rd doubling bass clarinet in B flat), 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B flat, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (4 players), harp, strings.

Duration: 10 min.

Difficulty: Medium

Commission note: Commissioned by Ars Musica Australis for performance by Sydney Youth Orchestra.

First performance: by George Ellis, Sydney Youth Orchestra — 29 Mar 03. Dame Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith NSW


Performances of this work

26 Sep 2020: at WAYO: Evolution (Perth Concert Hall). Featuring Western Australian Youth Orchestra (WAYO), Peter Moore.

27 Mar 2011: at AdYO: Beginnings (Elder Hall). Featuring Adelaide Youth Orchestra, Keith Crellin.

29 Mar 03: Dame Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith NSW. Featuring George Ellis, Sydney Youth Orchestra.

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