Duration: c. 11.30 minutes
Publisher: STUDIO MUSIC COMPANY
TERRA AUSTRALIS was commissioned by the YBS Band for their 2005 Kings of Brass Tour of Australia and premiered by them under their conductor Professor David King in Sydney Opera House, New South Wales on 22nd August 2005. The first UK performance was given by the same performers at the RNCM Festival of Brass on 29th January 2006, which was subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 8th March 2006. The work was first used in its contest version at the Australian Brass Band Championships held in Melbourne, Victoria, in Easter 2007.
The first compositional outcome of my composer-in-residency with the YBS Band was Terra Australis written in close collaboration with Professor David King. I had usually only had more intimate workings when engaged on concertos but David had things in mind for this piece and I decided to trust his instinct and try and produce something specifically geared to the band's 2005 Tour of Australia. David provided the title, I had only to compose the music! The experience has been both rewarding and taken me down some new avenues of investigation all of which I hope come out in the work. Composed in a single movement, the piece has a tripartite structure, opening with a dramatic representation of the natural wonders of the intoxicating Australian landscape, beautiful yet dangerous by turn. The spirit of Captain Cook's Endeavour searching the coastal waters, the observation of the indigenous population, the joy of a new life and optimistic future for the settlers and the triumph over tragedy when pioneering the vast new unexplored vistas are all represented. The central, and initially more lyrical, section features more exposed instrumental lines and textures including in the undercurrent a quotation of Australia's national anthem. This gives way to some more rapid material (and in contest environments an additional cadenza section) before concluding with what I describe as the 'ANZAC moment' where echoing cornet fanfares salute the nation's fallen in overseas wars far from home. The final section forms an 'Anthem for a Nation' where after a declamatory statement of the main theme (hidden away in the earlier stages of the work's progress) the melody is now realised in full. Slowly building towards a huge cathedral of sound in the manner of a grand chorale the coda brings full circle the opening material in an even more colossal and energetic conclusion. Dedicated to David King and the YBS Band, Terra Australis could not have been realised without my experiencing the Australian way of life or dealt so closely with a domiciled Australian.
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