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Satellite of Love and Fear : a cycle of five songs and two piano interludes

by John Peterson (2017)

Work Overview

The Moon, Earth's only satellite, has always had a strong influence on us: not only in a physical sense, in that the Moon controls the changing ocean tides, but also in a psychological sense, where it can have a profound effect on our collective imaginations. When the Moon is full, the effects of moonlight can be evocative and atmospheric, often both beautiful and eerie. However, during a new moon, where there is no visible moon in the sky, a darkness inhabits the night-time sky that creates an atmosphere much more mysterious and potentially much more foreboding. The new moon and lunar eclipses created a sense of fear amongst the populations of earlier civilisations and, even today, these events can still evoke not only a sense of wonder and excitement but also strong feelings of trepidation. On the one hand, we fear the darkness, but we are also love the effect of the light of the Moon - it is a powerful dichotomy.

Satellite of Love and Fear is a song cycle that examines, through five songs and two piano interludes, our fascination with the Moon. The texts for four of the songs are taken from diverse poets who lived in quite different parts of the world, thus offering a variety of perspectives on our relationship with the Moon. The final song is a setting of the words spoken by Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the Moon (in 1971), as he looked back at the Earth from this supremely unique vantage point. This song cycle, therefore, takes us on a journey from the image of a lone person on Earth looking up at the Moon ("Alone and Drinking Under the Moon"), to the image of a lone person looking from the Moon back towards Earth ("From Behind the Moon").

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Soprano, piano.

Duration: 30 min.

Contents note: Alone and Drinking Under the Moon (ca. 6:45) -- Full Moon Rhyme (ca. 1:50) -- Interlude 1: The Waning Moon / New Moon (ca. 4:00) -- Moonlight in the Forest (ca. 4:00) -- Prayer to the Young Moon (ca. 4:10) -- Interlude 2: The Waxing Moon / Full Moon (ca. 3:45) -- From Behind the Moon (ca. 5:55).

Dedication note: Dedicated to David Miller, Wendy Dixon

Commission note: Commissioned by Wendy Dixon.

First performance: by Wendy Dixon, David Miller — 22 Mar 18. UNSW

Texts from: Li Po ('Alone and drinking under the moon') ; Judith Wright ('Full moon rhyme') ; Aaro Hellaakoski ('Moonlight in the forest').
'Prayer to the Young Moon' is a hymn of the San bushmen of Southern Africa
(from Specimens of Bushman folklore (1911)).


Performances of this work

22 Mar 18: UNSW. Featuring Wendy Dixon, David Miller.

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