Dedicated to Helen Edwards; Commissioned by Musica Viva Australia for performance by Academy of St Martin in the Fields Octet with funds provided by Australia Council.
My string octet (arranged here for string orchestra) in two movements on the Latin hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (Come, O Creator Spirit) attempts to reconcile two divergent trends in my work throughout the 1980s: the intense, inward focus of my Symphony No. 1 'Da Pacem Domine' and the optimistic extroversion of my violin concerto, Maninyas. In the first movement (Puro e tranquillo), the hymn melody is heard first as a violin solo and then treated as a cantus firmus in long values to form the basis of an austere polyphonic motet. Remote and archaic, this movement sounds like an echo from the age of Palestrina (with a tinge of Japanese pentatonicism) whilst preserving my own musical voice. The Amen of the hymn is protracted, elaborated and interfused with drones and patterns recalling the world of insects and symbolising eternity. The second movement (Ritmico), a lively, obsessive dance which explores and exploits connections between the Veni Creator melody and music from a variety of non-Western cultures, is concerned with the idea of creating unity out of diversity. It concludes with a modified re-statement of the Amen. Veni Creator Spiritus was completed in January 1993 and is dedicated to my wife, Helen. It was commissioned by Musica Viva (Australia) and the Australia Council for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Octet, who gave its first performance in the Perth Concert Hall in November 1993.