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David Hamilton: Children of...Embedded video
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When starting to think about this piece for the Westlake Symphony Orchestra (students of Westlake Girls’ and Boys’ High Schools) I decided to look for ‘local’ inspiration. The major geological feature in the area is Lake Pupuke, and as with most New Zealand landforms there are associated Maori myths and legends. In this case the lake is supposedly the result of a disagreement between two children of a “tupua” couple – the children of the Fire Gods – and the fire-goddess herself Mahuika. A ‘tupua’ is a demon, often taking the form of a common object of the landscape.
One account of the story goes like this:
A Māori myth surrounding the lake tells of a Tupua couple, children of the Fire Gods. After quarreling and cursing Mahuika, the fire-goddess, their home on the mainland was destroyed by Mataoho, god of earthquakes and eruptions on Mahuika's behalf. Lake Pupuke resulted from the destruction, while Rangitoto Island rose from the sea as their exile. The mists surrounding Rangitoto at certain times are considered the tears of the Tupua couple for their former home.
This work is not intended to be narrative, and simply takes the myth as a starting point. However the important solo passages for the piccolo and 1st bassoon could be seen as representing the two children. Towards the end of the work the piccolo has a brief cadenza-like passage, where it expresses its frustration and anger with its fate! The work as a whole is energetic and rhythmic, suggesting the drama of the events in the legend.
Children of the Fire Gods was written for the Westlake Symphony Orchestra and conductor David Squire who has taken the orchestra to its place as one of the city’s finest youth ensembles.
Written for the Westlake Symphony Orchestra and conductor David Squire