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Crossway : for orchestra

by Harry Sdraulig (2017)

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Work Overview

Crossway was commissioned by the Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra for their major concert commemorating the 75th anniversary of the horrific events that took place during World War II, in which over 110,000 people were murdered by the Nazis at Babi Yar, near Kiev.

I have a strong family connection to the tragic events of the War more generally through my Polish grandparents. As a member of the Polish underground resistance movement, my grandmother assisted and offered protection to many people during this time. My grandfather was held as a prisoner of war, and was principal trumpet of the Polish Army Band - a significant factor in my own decision to learn the trumpet at a young age. Indeed, Crossway features the trumpet quite prominently - perhaps this connection found its way into the score through my subconscious. It is a great honour for me to be composing a new work for such a profound and important occasion with the Zelman Symphony, and I hope that my music will reflect the significance of those past events through the mind of a younger generation.

Crossway is in four movements. The first begins decisively and confidently - perhaps with misguided optimism - as persistent ostinati and drumming rhythms dominate the texture. The second movement is melancholic and reflective, featuring an expressive violin solo which represents a voice yearning for tranquillity and peace. The third movement constitutes the cataclysmic climax of the work, propelled with unremitting energy through hostile interjections from the brass and percussion. After much struggle this intensity dissipates, giving way to the hymn-like final movement. Initially broken by what has come before, the music grows - ever so slowly - from darkness towards hope.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, 2 harps, piano/celesta, percussion (3 players: xylophone, vibraphone, tom-toms, snare drum, crotales, wood blocks, tubular bells, tam-tam, suspended cymbal, bass drum), strings.

Duration: 15 min.

Difficulty: Medium — For an advanced youth or university orchestra

Contents note: I. Con Moto -- II. Tranquillo -- III. Energico -- IV. Grave.

Commission note: Commissioned by Zelman Symphony Orchestra.

First performance: by Zelman Symphony Orchestra, Mark Shiell — 17 Sep 17. Hamer Hall, Arts Centre, Melbourne


Resonate article: 'Crossway' for the Zelman Symphony by Harry Sdraulig


Crossway, excerpts

Performances of this work

1 Jul 2018: at Symphonie Fantastique (Melbourne Recital Centre). Featuring Melbourne Youth Orchestra, Fabian Russell.

17 Sep 2017: at Babi Yar - Shostakovich, Sdraulig, Kats-Chernin (Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne). Featuring Zelman Symphony Orchestra, Mark Shiell.

17 Sep 17: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre, Melbourne. Featuring Zelman Symphony Orchestra, Mark Shiell.

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