• Ross Edwards
  • Ecstatic Dance (1990)
    (for orchestra)

  • Wise Music G. Schirmer Australia Pty Ltd (World)
  • 2(II:pic).2.2.2/
  • 6 min

Programme Note

Ecstatic Dances grew out of a little flute duo I contributed to a garland of miniatures by Australian composers in celebration of Peter Sculthorpe’s 50th birthday in 1979. A flute and clarinet arrangement has been made by Roger Armstrong. I made a detailed revision of both scores in 2013.

The first dance makes use of the mediaeval European polyphonic device known as hocketing to produce a graceful interplay of hypnotic insect sound patterns. After a melodic flowering it dissolves briefly into a remote, nocturnal sequence which functions as an interlude. The second dance, radiant and insistently melodic, is often performed on its own.

It exists in many different arrangements, including several for string duo, and as the finale of Chorale and Ecstatic Dance in versions for string quartet, string orchestra and full orchestra. In 2013 I made a special orchestral version for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra for inclusion in volume 13 of the Hush collection, a series of CDs put out by the Hush Music Foundation, whose purpose is to produce music designed to calm children and parents during stressful medical procedures. Sales of the CD will also help raise money for Australian Children’s Hospitals.

Ecstatic Dances was commissioned by Belinda Webster Ecstatic for Radio 2MBS-FM in Sydney for the flautist Geoffrey Collins, to whom it is dedicated.