Last Tuesday was an emotional and highly rewarding day. Facilitated by Rita Horanyi, Artistic Director if the NT Writer’s Festival, I had the great privilege of talking with poets Matthew Heffernan, Yvette Holt, Theresa Penangke Alice (see picture below) and Maureen O’Keefe about their beautiful work, and garnering a sense of their emotional journey when writing the four poems chosen for my latest orchestral song cycle commission from the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, Four Lost Songs featuring the stunning voice of soprano Rachelle Durkin. I was completely floored by our poets’ generosity and honesty, giving my composer brain an invaluable look and feel into what went into these poems—absolutely essential to my musical and compositional process.
When discussing the commission details late last year, Conductor Jon Tooby and I had a bit of a musical fan gush moment over Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs), also discovering our mutual respect for Jessye Norman’s inimitable recording. Jon asked for a work of similar scope and length, to which I replied it’s a big ask, to model a work on such a monster of the orchestral lied repertoire, but I’ll certainly do my best! The Four Lost Songs do pay a certain homage to Strauss’s work, and feature texts that focus yes on loss, but also on joy, resilience and hope, like in Theresa’s poem above, and the vital importance of connection to country of our first nations people. I have incredible forces to work with…a symphony orchestra, an amazing soprano, poems that are visceral and emotive, and all those years of singing and coaching Strauss behind me…it’s all leading to this!!! I am so looking forward to sharing it with the world.
For now, I am finishing the last of my orchestration tasks for Our Little Inventor for the West Australian Opera, before moving into song cycle territory. OLI will be on in Perth on the 1st and 2nd October for four shows. Come along and bring your family, it’s a beautiful and uplifting story with lots of fun and adventure.
Click on the names above for links to the poets and their beautiful work. I am beyond grateful for their trust and generosity. Go well, and with music in your soul.