• Ross Edwards
  • Elegies and Epiphanies (2010)

  • Wise Music G. Schirmer Australia Pty Ltd (World)
  • 2+pic.2+ca.0+2bb-cl+bcl.2+cbn/0+4f-hn.0+3bb-tpt.0+2trbntc+btbn.0/2perc/pf.hp/str(
  • 20 min

Programme Note

In composing Elegies and Epiphanies I saw an opportunity to revisit the world of some of my earlier works, especially those of the 1970s. At that time, having recently returned from years of study in Europe, I found that I no longer regarded Australia as somewhere from which any self-respecting young artist must escape in order to conform to a homogenized global esthetic. Rather, I experienced a sense of belonging to a place where new possibilities might be explored.

Setting aside, for the moment, most of what I’d learnt, I began to listen closely to the sounds of the landscape, its timeless drones, shapes and patterns, and these gradually became spiritualized, through an unconscious inward process, into a musical language through which I felt I could communicate my experience of Australia. Spare at first, this essential language gradually became garnished with elements of South East Asian and European cultures and enlivened by dance rhythms influenced by the sound patterns of insects and frogs. The persistence of underlying drones ensured that contact with the earth was maintained.

European art has long been essentially dynamic, reflecting and contributing to the social upheaval produced when opposing forces seek to attain definite goals and impose ideologies. Eastern art, on the other hand, is essentially quietist and content to ‘go with the flow’ of universal energies rather than interfere with their natural course. Its recognition of the equal importance of the feminine values of contemplation and nurture and the more overtly purposeful masculine ones, and its implicit understanding of the need for balance, both social and ecological, has for some time been playing an important role in redefining Western values, and its subtle effect on Western art is manifest.

In this spirit I composed Elegies and Epiphanies. The music flows freely in intricate patterns distilled from the transient fluctuations of the natural world. No one particle is intended to have more significance than any other. No goal is sought, no structure preconceived, and my experience of composing was fundamentally mysterious. This half-lit, harmonious state is intruded upon from time to time by intense episodes reflecting my involvement with the “real” world, but it always returns, inviting timeless contemplation, and in a final symbolic gesture, abolishing self-consciousness by immersing it in the sea.

Elegies and Epiphanies was commissioned by Peter R. Dawson and composed especially for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, its Chief Conductor, Paul Daniel, and the calm, clear acoustic of the Perth Concert Hall. The World Premiere performance by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Paul Daniel in the Perth Concert Hall on Thursday December 2, 2010.