Date: 10 October 2017
Venue: Recital Hall West, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Presented by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music
The fire in which we burn is an all-Australasian program featuring works by Ross Edwards, Sadie Harrison, Tim Dargaville and Gillian Whitehead with texts that span two centuries, seven countries, and the complete cycle of seasons. By reflecting on the cycles by which we live, we gain a glimpse of the turning wheels of history seeing ourselves mirrored in the shifting backdrop of the natural world.
Sadie Harrison’s With what does winter’s summer’s sing takes us on a journey through the seasonal patterns of nature and love, interspersing them with a series of exaltant ‘calling' songs, reminding us of those moments of joy in the midst of the passing of time. An Australian composer who has been resident in the UK for many years, her song cycle speaks of how the passing of time resonates with our own cycles of love and loss. This has been a common poetic conceit for centuries, with Spring heralding new love and Winter marking the coldness of a dying relationship, or a life which is at an end. Her texts draw on both ancient and modern literature in English translation, creating a fresh vernacular for words that span centuries.
Ross Edward’s Five Senses is inspired by the poetry of Judith Wright, renowned not only as a poet but as an environmental activist. Every poem’s images are so clearly drawn - from the fiery wheel of creation, the ageless columns of dark foreboding rainforest or the delicate dew-encrusted spider webs, right down to the individual flowers on the forest floor. At times ominous and mysterious or exuberantly joyful, it is a celebration of the Australian landscape and the capacity it has to touch us and inhabit our senses.
Gillian Whitehead’s Because of the child, a short unaccompanied song, was composed for a group of people keen to raise awareness of environmental issues and draws our attention to the role man plays in his environment. She spends time between both Australia and New Zealand, and the many natural and cultural references in her life are clearly present in her prodigious body of work.
Tim Dargaville’s Kolam, movement III for solo piano is inspired by the ancient art of Kolam, an art of symmetry, precision, and complexity, where circular patterns of geometric lines are created on the ground using curved lines and dots and drawn with powder made from rice and other natural materials. Often drawn by women at the threshold to the house, throughout the day the drawings get walked on, washed out in the rain, or blown around in the wind only to be re-made the following day. This intricate art reflects both the movement and constant nature of time, but also the renewal it will always bring.
Sadie Harrison - with what do winter’s summers sing? (2004)
Tim Dargaville - Kolam, Movement III (2014)
Brad Taylor-Newling - Ombrone (2014)
Ross Edwards - Five Senses: Five Poems of Judith Wright (2012)
Jenny Duck-Chong mezzo-soprano, Bernadette Harvey piano, Joshua Hill percussion
Image: Linden Gledhill