After the fire : for solo harp
by Michael Whiticker (1992)
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My title is taken from a series of works which the artist Fred Williams painted following a bush fire. What especially excited my imagination was experiencing in his paintings an acute observation of the different states of the bush in the days following the fire and his fascination with the speed of regeneration of the bush. Fire itself is a potent symbol, and not necessarily one that is always associated with destruction. The Aboriginal people used 'burnback' to encourage new shoots to appear from amongst the burnt out undergrowth. This cleaning away of the rubbish and starting of something new is meaningful for me, and symbolic of the mould in which my piece for harp was cast. After the Fire is intentionally destructive, ridiculing itself as much as all the harp works that have come before it. It is full of the collisions of musical materials and gestures of numerous other instruments and styles. It is cyclic with many of its ideas shocked into action and reaction by the rudeness of its accompanying gestures. Being conceived purely as an exploratory work, it is not 'safe', far from it. If it is in the nature of the harp as an instrument that composers have tended to write 'beautiful' pieces for it, then my piece will shock with its 'ugliness'.
Duration: 13 min.
Dedication note: Dedicated to Marshall McGuire
Commission note: Commissioned by Elision Ensemble.
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