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The earth that fire touches : for soprano soloist, SATB chorus and orchestra

by John Peterson (2000)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

From the CD Federation celebration, 28th and 29th August 2002.

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Federation celebration


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Federation celebration : 28th and 29th August 2002.

Library shelf no. DVD 1 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

The Earth that Fire Touches evokes, in musical terms, some aspects of the Australian landscapes, especially those of the 'bush', the often heavily wooded areas that surround the cities where most of us live, and those of the flat and sparse semi-desert areas that are physically further away from us but always seem to be a part of our personal vision of what symbolises the true essence of Australia. The work is in three sections. The first section is mysterious, almost mystical, in its ritual approach to creating an atmosphere that reflects feelings one sometimes has when standing alone in the bush. Hearing the calls from birds and the noises made by other unseen animals whilst one is surrounded by thick undergrowth can create feelings of apprehension and expectation, especially at night. The second section is a fast celebratory dance of rebirth, acknowledging the extraordinary way that nature has of rejuvenating itself after the devastating effects of bushfire or from the incessant heat of the sun. Even today, drought and fire remain the two primary fears of anyone living and working on the land in Australia. The music, here, is repetitive and very rhythmic, often with ostinato patterns which remain on the same pitches for long periods of time creating a musical backdrop that attempts to reflect the wide-open spaces of inland Australia. The music of the final section refers to the opening of the work, and while the apprehensive feelings of that section are still prevalent, the music now allows for some sort of peaceful resolution to occur.

Work Details

Year: 2000

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players), soprano soloist, SATB choir, piano, strings.

Duration: 11 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Rev. Dr Arthur Bridge for performance by Ars Musica Australis.. Commissioned as part of the celebrations surrounding the Centenary of Australian Federation.

First performance: by Alison Morgan, MLC School Choir, MLC School Orchestra, Trinity Grammar School Choir, Trinity Grammar School Orchestra, Richard Gill — 28 Aug 02. Bowman Hall, Blacktown, Sydney

Texts taken from Peter Skryznecki's poems: 'Armageddon' and 'The third day: God created the Earth'.


Performances of this work

6 Nov 05: Riverside Theatre, Parramatta. Featuring Penelope Mills, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Kate Golla, Josephine Allan, Synergy Percussion, Brett Weymark.

28 Aug 02: Bowman Hall, Blacktown, Sydney. Featuring Alison Morgan, MLC School Choir, MLC School Orchestra, Trinity Grammar School Choir, Trinity Grammar School Orchestra, Richard Gill.

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