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The Auckland Choral Society requested that this commission reflect the theme of a "Celebration Piece for the Millennium of New Zealand". At the time of writing (August-September, 2000) the 'celebration' of the Millennium had well and truly been exhausted, and so I wanted to take a different angle to the theme of this piece. I wanted to recognise something about New Zealand that made us special in the global context; something recent that was of particular significance. And when I read Keith Sinclair's poem The Bomb Is Made, I felt I had discovered something special: our recent efforts as peace-makers and in particular New Zealand's anti-Nuclear policy.
Keith Sinclair's poem is five verses long and sketches brilliantly images of modern war, as well as urging us to "Be kind to one another, kiss a little". I have just set the last verse:
The bomb is made will drop on Rangitoto
I do not want to see that sun-burned harbour,
Islandless as moon, red-skied again,
Its tide unblossomed, sifting wastes of ash.
Be kind to one another, kiss a little,
Our only weapon is this gentleness.
As well as being a plea for peace, the music attempts to convey the vivid images in sound. While the mood is predominantly sombre, a sense of quiet celebration prevails at the end.
Commissioned by the Auckland Choral Society for its Subscription Series in year 2000, with funding provided by Creative New Zealand.
Poem by Keith Sinclair