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When David heard : for chamber choir and piano

by Jennifer Fowler (1983, this version: 2007)

Score Sample

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Performance by Roland Peelman, Sydney Chamber Choir from the CD Works by Bowman, Schultz, Yu, Ford, Twist, Holley, Kerry, Spiers and Fowler

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When David heard


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When David heard


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When David heard : for chamber choir and piano / Jennifer Fowler.

Library shelf no. 782.55295/FOW 1 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

When David Heard is the setting of a dramatic account of the death of Absolem. It contains a universal theme: the rebellion of a child against his parent. Everyone who has been a child or a parent will recognise the love, hate and guilt engendered in this relationship. David is forced to fight, in order to retain his kingship, but he is overcome by guilt, as well as grief, when his son is killed in the battle.

Musically, I was thinking in terms of a kind of chanting, and here I found it useful to think of Aboriginal chant, rather than that of the European tradition. From Aboriginal chant, I have borrowed the idea of a phrase pattern which typically starts high and loud and finishes low and soft. It is also slightly out of synchronisation in pitch and rhythm. Having established this pattern I have then found it useful to break out of it at certain dramatic points. Rather more of the story is told in this version, than in the famous Thomas Tomkins motet of the same name; but the piece ends with the same text as Tomkins and contains a couple of brief musical references to it.

Work Details

Year: 1983, this version: 2007

Instrumentation: SATB choir (divided into 4 groups), piano (or alternative other non-keyboard instrument, or voice).

Duration: 9 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: To my friend David Tunley, and his son, Martin, and to my son, Martin.

Commission note: Commissioned with funds provided by Australia Council. Music Board.. Commissioned for the Collegium Musicum of the University of Western Australia.

First performance: by David Tunley, Collegium Musicum — 5 Jun 83. York, WA

Text from the Bible (Samuel 2, 17), adapted from the New English Bible.


Performances of this work

30 Jun 07: St James Church, King Street, Sydney. Featuring Roland Peelman, Sydney Chamber Choir.

16 Jul 88: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London UK. Featuring John Bate, Thames Philharmonic Choir.

21 Apr 86: Seymour Centre, Sydney. Featuring Charles Coleman, The Song Company.

6 Jun 85: St Johns Smith Square, London UK. Featuring Pegasus Chamber Choir.

12 Dec 84: Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. Featuring Robert Smallwood, Astra Choir.

Jul 83: Cottesloe Civic Centre, Perth, WA. Featuring David Tunley, Collegium Musicum.

5 Jun 83: York, WA. Featuring David Tunley, Collegium Musicum.

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