• Ross Edwards
  • Southern Cross Chants (2004)

  • Wise Music G. Schirmer Australia Pty Ltd (World)
  • SSATBarB
  • SSATBarB
  • 20 min

Programme Note

Southern Cross Chants is a further exploration of the astronomical text provided by Fred Watson for my choral Fourth Symphony, Star Chant (2001). It consists of a series of modules, each of which may be detached for separate performance.

The text celebrates stars and constellations of the southern skies by juxtaposing their classical, scientific and Australian Aboriginal names. The first module, for example, pairs the words for the constellation Hydra with Unwala: Hydra being the water-snake of ancient Greek legend, whose head is Unwala the Crab to the people of Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The work thus attempts a musical fusion of art and science whilst recognizing that Australia’s indigenous cultures were possibly the world’s first astronomers.

Southern Cross Chants was commissioned by the Ian Potter Cultural Trust for The Song Company. It was first performed in Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney, on 2 December 2004. The Song Company was conducted by Roland Peelman, to whom the work is dedicated.

Composed for 6 solo voices, it can be performed by larger groups with some solo singers for particular sections such as the Antares solo chants. Occasional drones can be added by an instrument such as the didgeridoo.

The work has been recorded by The Song Company with William Barton, didgeridoo, for a 2009 Song Company release entitled Kalkadunga Yurdu