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Ancient Rhythms was written during my year as Composer in Residence with the Manukau City Symphony Orchestra. It was inspired by the poem The Journey by Tessa Stephens, and contains the following instructions within the score - “Misterioso, agitato, misterioso, suddenly confident, suddenly whimsical, molto delicato/misterioso, capriciously, more thoughtful, misterioso, uneasily, capricious again, a manic race to the end”.
Time passes. Sun slides west.
The tide fills in many footprints as
The voyaging canoes of a new age come and go.
Ebb and flow still lures Poaka the stilt over the isthmus.
Nightly his cry sounds from Tamaki to Manukau,
Though softer now,
Muffled by the roar of new imperatives.
Dusk comes. Light dims.
A criss-cross of black seal and concrete blocks
Grips the land.
Weary workers inch home,
Coloured beads on a black-tarred chain, fragmented,
Captives in their glass privacy,
Jarred by stop-go of brake-light
And sense of loss.
For beneath the wheels of commerce
And the grind of gears,
Beneath the tinsel talk and varied hues,
The mixing and matching, toing and froing,
Scream of siren and choking exhaust,
Beneath all this,
Ancient rhythms still vibrate in the memory.
Extract from The Journey by Tessa Stephens
Commissioned by the Manukau Symphony Orchestra during Holmes's Composer Residency with them in 2005