Photo Credit: Bridget Elliot
Ross Edwards holds a special place in the Australian music landscape. One of Australia’s most prolific, most-performed and best-loved composers, his compositions have been performed by major instrumentalists, ensembles and orchestras around Australia and the world.
For our Grieg and Beyond tour, Ross has been commissioned by Rob and Nancy Pallin to create a new work to be premiered by our Norwegian guest director Henning Kraggerud. Inspired by Australia’s natural ecosystems, the new work Entwinings is concerned with humankind’s acceptance of its material and spiritual interdependence – its entwining – with the whole of nature.
“Entwinings evolves naturally” says Ross. “It's based on my time experiencing nature in a natural environment – which has now become a part of my musical language. This piece is absolutely typical of that. And, as with all my music, it implies dance, when it's not implying trance. I think of it as a dance of nature.”
The first of two movements begins with the spontaneous, audible birth of a tiny organism that begins to pulse rhythmically and then to dance. Other voices join in to form a kaleidoscopic interplay inspired by drones, intersecting rhythms and bird cries of a natural environment in the heat of summer. A frenzied community of rainbow lorikeets at dusk fades to contemplation of the night sky, before daylight brings a resurgence of the dance, with some new twists and turns, and the birds come back with a vengeance.
The serene second movement is a set of variations on a short extract from Edwards’ Second String Quartet, Shekina Fantasy, which grows out of the first notes of the Magnificat (Canticle of Mary), an ancient Middle Eastern hymn of exaltation.
Composing the first variation, Edwards found himself imagining shards of sunlight reflected on the gently heaving surface of a calm sea: a vision of peace and wholeness. Variation 2 creates an atmosphere of playful geniality ending in child-like innocence. This is dispelled by Variation 3, sombre and unsettled at first, then turning to reverie with multiple drones before leading to a restatement of the theme.
Entwinings is signature Edwards - firmly connected to its roots in Australia’s natural environment with a kind of ‘Australian earth language’ that is akin to the music of Peter Sculthorpe, or the poetry of Judith Wright. Combined with the naturalist works of Grieg, we’re certain audiences will enjoy this very special commission.
Entwingings will have its world premiere performance as part of Grieg and Beyond, which tours nationally with guest director Henning Kraggerud from 1 – 12 September.
Entwinings was commissioned by Rob and Nancy Pallin for the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The Pallin's are two very special people whose family company has combined love of nature with a strong, practical commitment to environmental sustainability for the last 80 years.