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Anna Cannon: Aramoana - AUDIOInternal audio
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Sample: first page of each movementSee details ➔
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Aramoana is an isolated coastal community 27 kilometres from Dunedin. It has a wild beauty haunted by events that divided a community after New Zealand's deadliest shooting in November 1990. I wanted to write a descriptive piano work to symbolize the beauty and remoteness of Aramoana compared with the tragedy that took place there in 1990. The victims were foremost in my mind as was the beauty and isolation of the region.
The first movement is called Aramoana and opens with a lyrical right hand melody that in my mind sounds like a singer singing the word "Aramoana." The first movement sets the scene for the wild, isolated raw beauty of Aramoana. There are small wave‐like surges from time to time, short bird song passages, and places where the grasses move in the wind. The mood is calm and undisturbed. Douglas Lilburn's music was an influence on the composition and in particular the use of short repeating motifs and rhythms that appear throughout and the emphasis on the descriptive nature of the landscape of Aramoana.
The second movement The Unsettling of Aramoana speaks for itself. The music begins with a slow moving, lyrical melody that sets the scene as calm and peaceful as well as remote and wildly beautiful. The melody moves between melancholy and hope. The music descends into unrest part way through, building the mounting tension appearing in the coastal community. A relentless forceful passage in the bass disturbs as the right‐hand plays a melody in a new key creating insecurity and alarm. The tension mounts and marches on persistently wanting to resolve to calm, but never fully achieving it.
Movement three aptly named Blood and Fire returns to the unsettled motif of The Unsettling of Aramoana at a much faster tempo and develops it further. This relentless motif plays continuously, never allowing peace. This movement surges, building tension until finally the violence ends. The bitonal texture creating turmoil and dread. The volume is loud and terrifying. The music descends, as if into hell and tries to free itself momentarily, but it does not succeed. This movement is deliberately shorter than the other three movement, hinting at the violent events that unfolded there, but not dwelling on them for too long.
Ode to the Survivors is the final movement of Aramoana ‐ Pathway to the Sea. Its opening melody speaks of hope and resolution. There are moments where we hear short melodies and rhythms that bring hints of the first two movements. Short rhythmic motifs flow with longer lines of melody, not unlike a hymn. The are changes in time which create a sense of timelessness and hope. The harmonic tension is subtly there; the bitonality has gone, but while sadness still tinges the music it also speaks of hope and strength. The overall mood sombre yet not without purpose.
– Anna Cannon, 2015
- The Unsettling of Aramoana
- Blood and Fire
- Ode to the Survivors
10 Aug 2016: Performed by John van Buskirk (piano) at Marama Hall, Otago University.