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Divertimento: Nolan's backyard

Sheet Music: Score

Divertimento: Nolan's backyard : for string orchestra / Christopher Willcock

by Christopher Willcock (2008)


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'Nolan' in the title refers to the Australian painter Sidney Nolan, and his 'backyard' is nothing less than the Australian continent. In 2008 a retrospective of Nolan's paintings travelled between three galleries in eastern Australia, and the present work is this composer's response to three paintings in the exhibition. Starting from Nolan's years growing up in St Kilda with the mesmerizing presence there of the roller-coaster at Luna Park (painting: 'Luna Park in the moonlight'), through the distances and emptiness of the outback in the saga of Burke and Wills with the earth receiving back the body of one of the luckless explorers (painting: 'Perished'), to Nolan's return to the strong early childhood memories of the Goulburn River, now populated with characters from the Ned Kelly story (painting: 'Riverbend I'), the three movements of Divertimento map the composer's reactions to the visual associations generated for him by the paintings but which are called, not by the titles of the paintings given above, but, respectively, Night Ride; Earth Song; and River Run.

The writing for string orchestra is triggered not just by the Nolan paintings but also by other associations and allusions, both literary and musical, which sprang into mind when considering the various shapes of the Australian landscape, familiar or alien, that constitute one's own 'backyard'. The full body of strings traces the broader lines of energy, or fantasy, of lament, or memory that are thereby evoked; the small body of soloists acts like a microscope, drawing closer to these experiences with a sharper, keener focus.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (21p. -- A4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced — Tertiary student/professional

Duration: 18 mins, 15 sec.

Contents note:

1. Night ride -- 2. Earth song -- 3. River run.

Commissioned by Melbourne Chamber Orchestra with funds provided by Ars Musica Australis.

First performance by Benjamin Northey, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra — 17 Aug 08. BMW Edge, Federation Square, Melbourne

Includes programme and performance notes.

Typeset edition.

ISMN: 979-0-67309-576-2

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Divertimento: Nolan's backyard
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