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Lake Ice : (Missed Tales No.1)

by Mary Finsterer (2013)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Kees Boersma, Sydney Symphony, Jessica Cottis from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 47.

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Women of Note


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Women of Note : A Century of Australian Composers, Volume 2.

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Work Overview

Like many parents, when I put my children to bed I engage in the common ritual of reading a story. In the search for tales that would enrich my kids' imagination I have scoured traditional literature from Greek myths to the Brothers Grimm. One day I came across an old book of fairytales I had read as a child. Here I discovered a compendium of stories influenced by the classics, but with beautiful and mysterious reinterpretations. I recalled my own memories of the book: the exotic landscapes, the trials and dangers...

This led me to wonder how I could illustrate or weave this feeling of storytelling through music. A concerto is a great vehicle for such an idea. One instrument can take the role of the main character who travels on a quest through different terrains. Music itself also represents a journey for the listener. Every sound is introduced by way of gesture; melodic or harmonic material must find its own path, which may not appear to have clear logic or sense, but always has a resolution.

The double bass appealed to me for such a work, as the sound of the instrument has always seemed to me like something from a faraway land. Seldom is it heard as a solo instrument leading an orchestra and rarely in the upper register. Its typical role is to do the heavy lifting for the ensemble.

Lake Ice is a response to this. It searches for ways to bring the double bass to the fore and highlights the many strange and beautiful sonorities it can produce.

Lake Ice sits at the apex of a series of musical pieces I've created called Missed Tales, based on the conceit that an anonymous collection of stories has been found after thousands of years in the recesses of a cave in Northern Europe. It explores ideas I have been developing from research into medieval music. My aim has been to find ways of re-thinking harmonic progressions through voice-leading.

Using the simple triad as my starting point, I have used 20th-century methods of analysis and generative processes to build harmonic progressions that produce unanticipated or unusual outcomes. In doing so, I hope to create harmonies that not only tell a story, but also challenge expectations.

Work Details

Year: 2013

Instrumentation: Solo double bass (amplified), flute (doubling piccolo), alto flute (doubling flute), 2 oboes (2nd doubling cor anglais), clarinet in B flat, bass clarinet, bassoon, contra-bassoon, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets in C, bass trombone, timpani, percussion (2 players), harp, strings (

Duration: 19 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Use of extended techniques

Dedication note: Dedicated to Eve & Wil Golja.

Written for: Kees Boersma

Commission note: Commissioned by Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

First performance: by Kees Boersma, Sydney Symphony, Jessica Cottis at Sydney Symphony: Finsterer (City Recital Hall) on 29 Aug 2013

The composer notes the following influences, etc associated with this work:
early music, Renaissance, Vivaldi, Bach, musical narrative.

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2014 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Orchestral Finalist Mary Finsterer
2014 Art Music Awards: Performance of the Year Finalist Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jessica Cottis, soloist Kees Boersma


Performances of this work

6 Sep 2013: at Sydney Symphony: Finsterer (Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall). Featuring Kees Boersma, Sydney Symphony, Jessica Cottis.

29 Aug 2013: at Sydney Symphony: Finsterer (City Recital Hall). Featuring Kees Boersma, Sydney Symphony, Jessica Cottis.

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