In September 1973, I returned to Australia after an absence of 20 years. The shock of home-coming was enormous. The timeless, formative visions of childhood had been pressing with increasing urgency into the music I'd been composing in the preceding 10 years, culminating, earlier in 1973, with the ARIA for EDWARD JOHN EYRE. The sounds, shapes, colours, textures - even smells - of that music could have been distorted by nostalgia. But they weren't. There is no shock like seeing familiar things with fresh eyes. My shock was not only at recognising family, old friends, places, but also at discovering in myself the child and the young boy who was still an integral part of me.
Salvation Creek with Eagle was composed the following year (June 1974) after returning to Durham which was my home at that time. It's essentially a work of integration. Childhood, home-coming, the everyday life of a composer and teacher in a small University city in the North East of England came together in a vision of a scrub-surrounded declivity on the plateau of the Lambert Peninsula in Ku-ringai Chase. Bright sun on the rippling water, baking air, the intermittent calls of Spotted Pardalote, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Whipbird and Fan-Tailed Cuckoo; and overhead, the solitary Wedge-Tailed Eagle, lazily riding the blue sky.
The piece was dedicated to my students at Durham, in particular, the University New Music Ensemble and Peter Wiegold, its director, who gave the first performance a week after it was finished.
– David Lumsdaine