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“Phantasmagoria” was a pre-cinema projection show that gained great popularity in the 19th Century. In a darkened theatre, all manner of lighting, shadows and other ingenious special effects were used to project gruesome images of skeletons and ghouls that cavorted around the spectators, both amazing and horrifying them.
Most of the thematic material of the work is based on an extract from John Dowland’s "Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares". At the beginning, the theme is played through over ghostly textures by a group of string players, similar to how it would have been originally heard. From there, the theme begins twisting into grotesque new shapes. A series of these surreal vignettes are passed around through the orchestra, slowly but surely piling up into an inexorable scream.
03 Jul 2010: Performed by the Auckland Youth Orchestra and conducted by Peter Thomas, at the War Memorial Hall, in Katikati
04 Jul 2010: Performed by the Auckland Youth Orchestra and conducted by Peter Thomas, at the Cambridge Town Hall, in Cambridge
08 Jul 2010: Performed by the Auckland Youth Orchestra and conducted by Peter Thomas, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, in Auckland