Two Seven Two One represents the number of New Zealand dead in the Gallipoli campaign. This battle probably more than any other before or since has shaped the national identity of New Zealand. The supreme sacrifice of these brave men is remembered on ANZAC Day (25 April) each year.
Two Seven Two One was written for the Moscow-based group ensemble XXI and their director, Lygia O’Riordan, for its premiere performance in the ANZAC service held in Moscow in 2003. The work is reflective, with occasional outbursts of raw anger. The mood is pensive but always the undercurrents shift so that unease pervades the work until the final outpouring of an anthem-like motif towards the close. Even as this reaches a powerful grounding on the flattened supertonic, relief of tension is not far away and the piece closes harmoniously and quietly. However, even then the interval of a second between E and F# high up in the violins still keeps it from settling completely.