This little suite was composed – and in some cases re-composed – in the spirit of “light but not trite” in response to a commission from the Australia Ensemble. It is dedicated to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies who celebrates his 80th birthday in September 2014.
What were once ‘occasional’ pieces can sometimes be retrieved – even after many years – for inclusion in other contexts. I re-worked and extended this cheerful tribute to my teacher, Peter Maxwell Davies, which was originally performed during his 2000 residency at the Barossa Festival in the wine-producing region of South Australia. (It was also intended as a celebration of affordable student wine).
Dark cello drones soon give way to passages of buoyant string textures which later recur to frame a central episode for woodwinds and vibraphone. This serenade, recognizably Southeast Asian in flavour, is audibly infused with echoes of our neighbouring culture of Indonesia.
3. Crow Dance
The crow figures prominently in the Dreamtime stories of Aboriginal Australia and is responsible, among other things, for bringing fire to humankind. My quirkily cavorting maninya portrays him in his alternative role as Trickster.
4. Fox Vigil
This wistful love song draws on material from the chamber opera, Christina’s World, which I composed in 1983 to a magical libretto by Dorothy Hewett. By moonlight, a young woman waits for her metaphorical lover, a sleek red fox. In her exalted imagination he is running swiftly to meet her, crossing a mountain “like a cloud, like a comet”. In fact, he has designs on the hen house, and this accounts for a fluttering outburst which disrupts the rhapsodic flow of melody.
5. Madagascan Song
My 1979 sextet Laikan – a celebration of the impulse to play – was composed for the British Ensemble The Fires of London and its director, Peter Maxwell Davies. I’ve reclaimed its central movement, a reconstitution of a joyous Madagascan folksong, as a fitting finale to the suite. Lively responsorial exchanges between the original male and female voices have been divided between woodwinds and strings, and a burbling accompaniment, originally for African harp, has been adapted for marimba.
- The Chamber Music Works of Ross Edwards
- In 2023, his 80th Birthday year, we celebrate the Chamber Music of Ross Edwards.