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"The boundary between collection and fetishism is mediated by classification and display in tension with accumulation and secrecy." Two musical strands run virtually throughout this short piece, sometimes clearly differentiated, at other times more obscure and confused, but always at some level presenting an opposition between an 'organic', accretional layer and an 'inorganic' abruptly changing one. This opposition can operate not only at surface level - as it does at the beginning, when two highly differentiated instrumental combinations are presented, each with their own characteristic modes of behaviour - but also at a subcutaneous level, when applied to various ways of generating or modifying the basic material. These concerns form only the technical armature and implementation of the piece, of course, and much of the original musical imagery was suggested by Borges' short story The Circular Ruins.
While giving the obligatory (questionable?) disclaimer about the piece in no way being programmatic, much of the mood and atmosphere of the story was certainly in my mind during the initial sketching stages, and it seems to me that its central conceit - one human dreaming another into existence, by sheer will - is a marvellous metaphor for the act of composition.
Commissioned by Stroma with funding from Creative New Zealand
to Phil, Hamish, Michael and the players of Stroma
18 Aug 2000: Premiered by Stroma conducted by Hamish McKeich at the Ilott Concert Chamber, Wellington
13 May 2001: Performed by Stroma with conductor Hamish McKeich at the Former National Museum Building in Wellington
30 Mar 2003: Performed by Stroma with conductor Hamish McKeich at Auckland School of Music, in Auckland
09 Oct 2008: Old Yeller 1
10 Oct 2008: Old Yeller 2
Performed by Stroma: Ed Allen (horn), Patrick Barry (clarinet), Johnny Chang (viola), Bridget Douglas (flutes), Murray Hickman (percussion), Robert Ibell (cello), Vicki Jones (double bass), Vesa-Matti Leppanen (volin), Robert Orr (oboe/cor anglais) and Xenia Pestova (piano)
Performed by Stroma: Bridget Douglas (fl), Robert Orr (oboe) Rixon Thomas (c.a), Patrick Barry/Gretchen La Roche (cl), Ed Allen (horn), Murray Hickman/Lenny Sakofsky (perc.), Xenia Pestov/Donald Nicolson (piano), Vesa-Matti Lappanen (violin), Johnny Chang/Katherine Rowe (viola), Robert Ibell (cello), Vicki Jones (double bass) conducted by Hamish McKeich