Continuum : full orchestra
by Stephen Holgate (1984)
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Continuum is a single-movement work in three sections. The first and last sections use a more conventional and what could be termed 'macro' harmonic and melodic language with dramatic use of a large percussion section. The central section of the work transitions into the 'micro' or interior level of sound itself - integrating the composer's interest in the so-called 'spectral' music of French composers Tristan Murail and Gerard Grisey (who were presenters at the 1980 Darmstadt International Summerschool of New Music in Germany, attended by Holgate). In this section, complex acoustic phenomena such as the overtone spectra, modulation, filters, formants etc (which determine natural sound colour or timbre) are orchestrated or synthesized by acoustic instruments to create a dynamic web of evolving textures and sonic clusters, frequently fused together by the use of percussion and woodwind multiphonics. Musically, the work is then a 'continuum' between the macro and micro worlds of sound as well as suggesting an analogy with life itself, which is continually in transition from birth, through growth, assimilation and conflict to death.
Continuum was Stephen Holgate's first orchestral work, composed whilst a Fellowship participant in the 1984 National Young Composers' School - jointly sponsored by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Music Board of the Australia Council.
Instrumentation: 2 flutes (one doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (one doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 percussion, strings, (no trombones).
Duration: 13 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — woodwind multiphonics in places; graduated dynamics markings; detailed percussion;
Continuum was included in the SSO’s “Meet the Music” series in the Sydney Opera House and Newcastle in May 1987. The 13 May performance was broadcast nationally on ABC-FM 13/5/1987 (direct to air broadcast), 27/7/1987 and 12/9/1987 including an on-stage interview between the composer and John Hopkins. An educational Teaching Kit including cassette recording and interview with Stephen Holgate and conductor Richard Mills was prepared by Brett Johnson (Education Officer, SSO) for students attending the 1987 "Meet the Music" concert.
The composer notes the following styles, influences, genres, themes, etc. associated with this work:
sound synthesis; percussion; Gerard Grisey; Tristan Murail; Conyngham; colour; timbre; harmony; mysterious melody.
- Influenced by: Spectral music
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