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Interview with David Hamilton about his "Chimera"




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SOUNZ asks David several questions about his work Chimera, written as part of the Auckland Philharmonia Composer Development project 2012/13.

You have mentioned that it’s important for the organist to be able to tailor the piece to the particular instrument they are playing. How did John’s interpretation impact on the development of the piece through the workshop sessions? In the time I spent with John at the organ, he was able to confirm for me that what I was writing would work on the instrument, and that there were appropriate sounds. He was very helpful at suggesting some options for sounds based on my general idea of what I wanted. Because he had worked with orchestras a lot, he also had a good idea of what was going to balance with the orchestral sound, and what might be a useful contrast to my scoring.

Can you tell us more about your idea behind contrasting percussive sounds with the sound of the organ and orchestra? Does the percussion represent any aspect of the ‘chimera’? I have been thinking of the organ as the “chimera”! I was keen to explore the idea of bright percussive and brittle sounds from the percussion, contrasting with the more sustained sounds that the organ, essentially a wind instrument, makes. During the writing of the piece, other aspects of the piece tended to push a really explicit contract of percussion and organ a little bit into the background. But it’s still there, especially towards the end where the percussion (with harp) alternate with the organ.

What do you want listeners to take away with them after hearing the piece? I always hope that my music gives the listener an enjoyable and positive musical experience. There’s noting “deep and meaningful” being explored here - just a fantasy kind of piece pitting organ against orchestra.