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Horn Concerto: hydraulic fracture
"The truth of the matter is that the practice has been going safely on in Taranaki for the past 30 years without any issues." - New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key
"Hydraulic fracturing is a well-established, safe means of increasing the flow of natural gas from rock formations." - Todd Corporation
"I cannot be confident that operational best practices are actually being implemented and enforced in this country [...] New Zealand's oversight and regulation is not currently adequate for managing the environmental risks of oil and gas drilling. This is particularly so given the potential for rapid expansion of the industry into the shale rocks of the North Island east coast [...] [companies] are being trusted rather too much to do the right thing [...] Increasing fracking will continue to lock the world into a fossil fuel future and crowd out investment in alternative sources of energy." - New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright
"Actually you never eyeball a horn player. That's one of the real rules. You just don't. They're stuntmen. You don't eyeball stuntmen just before they're about to go near death." - Simon Rattle
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process that breaks apart layers of rock with highly pressurized chemical liquids to release natural gas. It is mechanical, fluid, risky and destructive. For me the horn is at once both that most earthy of instruments, the harmonic bedrock of the orchestra, and also its most reckless daredevil. Here the horn's harmonic series are mined for their distinctive and fragile upper partials - the horn is forced into increasingly tense and precarious melodic configurations.
Where Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps dramatized the ritual adoration of the earth by pagan ancestors, hydraulic fracture mourns our own culture of industrial extraction and insatiable growth, our ritual destruction of the earth. Like our planet though, the horn is surprisingly resilient. And although humans may not live to see it, nature will find ways to replenish itself.
Thank you to all donors who contributed to the funding of this commission through boosted:
Peter Thomas Auckland Symphony Orchestra Mark Michel Grace Francis Tecwyn Evans Diane Baguley Michael Hunter Michael Norris Alethea Lim Judith Gust Chelsea Wong Nicola Baker Heather Thompson Jeffrey McGuire Reuben Jelleyman Rodney Michie Caroline Banks Eve de Castro-Robinson Kathleen Thomas Miriam Robinson Serena Liang Henry Swanson Sarah Ballard Rhona Sommerville Anna Lau Yi You Suzie Harris Elizabeth Kerr Kerry Margan Michele Wahrlich
Commissioned through boosted by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra
11 Oct 2015: Performed by Emma Richards (horn) and the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, cond. Peter Thomas at the Aotea Centre, Auckland, New Zealand.
18 Oct 2015: Performed by Emma Richards (horn) and the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, cond. Peter Thomas at the Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland, New Zealand.