XPT : for orchestra
by Natalie Williams (2000)
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XPT was composed for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra's New Voices Program, and commissioned by Symphony Australia. XPT is an acronym for (X)Express (P)assenger (T)rain, which is an express passenger service running between the major cities of the Australian Eastern seaboard.
In late 1997 I travelled on an XPT overnight from Sydney to Melbourne, a 10 - 11 hour journey. My memories of that trip were of busy stations at 40 minute intervals, interspersed by seemingly endless scenes of a faintly moonlit landscape. The steady pace of the train was, for me, secondary to the sphere of activity around the stations and watching people come and go in the darkest hours of the night. I was fascinated by the contrasts in landscape and environment, sometimes consisting of the city lights, other times being only a flat stretch of desert dotted with the occasional tree.
I was inspired by the mystique of this steel engine speeding through the Australian countryside and began some sketches in 1999, completing XPT in 2000. XPT is not intended to be a musical depiction of a train. It is rather a reflection on the nature of my journey - being one of hundreds of people hurtling through the night, apparently forgotten by the towns and cities that we passed. While the piece is rhythmically driven, relying heavily on a 3+3+2-quaver pattern, I have aimed to reflect the energy, power and exuberance associated with the XPT rather than the motion of the train itself. Taking the rhythms of the train I structured the work around varying sections of the journey, each segment reflecting a particular aspect of the surroundings.
Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in B flat, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (2 players), strings.
Duration: 10 min.
Difficulty: Medium — Advanced amateur/professional.
Written for: Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Commission note: Commissioned by Symphony Australia.
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