2008 - Composition Diary

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2008 Composition Diary

Throughout 2008 the Bendigo Chorale's Musical Director, Rohan Phillips will be composing three new pieces, especially written to be performed within the Chorale's 2008 concert season.
On this page Rohan will be maintaining a diary of his progress and hopes to include compositional notes, sketches and other information.
Please contact Rohan via the Chorale (email: bendigochorale@hotmail.com) if you have any questions or comments (please indicate if you would like these published here.)

Tudor Music:

Madrigal for choir and guitar

Classical Celebration:

Concerto for flute and chamber orchestra

Christmas with the Chorale ~ and Brass:

motet for choir, brass ensemble, and organ

This season has been supported by a grant from Regional Arts Victoria:
see RAV announcement (2nd project listed)

The Regional Arts Fund is an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional and remote Australia, administered in Victoria by Regional Arts Victoria


Tudor Music: 4th May

Madrigal for choir and guitar

  • January,  The first major decision regarding this composition concerned its form: initially I indicated that this would be either an anthem (sacred) or madrigal (secular), however I was able to find a suitable secular text, so at this stage I am calling this work Madrigal.
    To fit in with the theme of the programme the text is from a Tudor author Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86), a pastoral poem in three stanzas: O sweet woods.
    My initial thoughts regarding this poem (and why I thought it might be suitable) are:

    • The repeated lines at the beginning of each stanza (see examples, below)
          O sweet woods, the delight of solitariness,
          O how much
      (v.3 well) I do like your solitariness!
      which very quickly lends the composition a formal 'shape'.
    • The rhythmic variety between the stanzas: 1 & 3 are quite flowing, and in stanza 2 the 'listing' what is absent in nature makes quite a strong repeated rhythmic effect:
          Nor envy's snaky eye finds any harbour here,
          Nor flatterers' venomous insinuation,
          Nor cunning humorists' puddled opinions...

    • Finally, I just like the poem: its sentiments regarding nature, and in the context of this programme's exploration of the Tudor period it makes a few interesting comments on court life.

  • January (2),  Progress has been very promising!
    It's been an interesting challenge, writing a work to fit in with a programme of early music. I certainly would not attempt to write something with the aim of passing it off a mock-Tudor, however I did want this work to sit comfortably in a programme of Tudor music and attempt some sort of dialogue.
    I guess a lot of my choral music is 'informed' by early music (16th to early 18th century) - this no doubt has a lot to do with my background, singing in the St Paul's choir from when/before I started getting interested in music. Lines are very important, and (as per the AMEB directives!) stepwise motion seems to predominate - I also like to 'hang around' a particular pitch, with two (or more) voices doing the same this can build up a harmony. As with all my composition - once things get established (and comfortable) it is then time to change it and rebuild the texture. Since this is the type of music I most like to sing I hope that this will make the piece more practical for the Chorale to learn.
    As for harmony - most sections start from very simple intervals (5ths or unisons) and then by stepwise motion the harmony can build. This is a pretty standard way to go, and can sometimes be a bit clichéd... but it's also a very practical way of writing for a choir unused to dense harmonies.
    As for rhythm - looking at quite a bit of Dowland (making performance copies for this concert) I really like his rhythmic feel - nicely modern (!) with its strong pulse, and at the same time his freedom to match the music to the angular rhythm of the poetry, rather than adapt the poetry to match a too-regular beat. It reminds me of Birtwistle, remembering that Birtwistle has used Dowland as the starting point for a few works - most noteably the pair of orchestral works:, The Shadow of Night (2001) and Night's Black Bird (2004), both of which use Dowland's In darkness Let Me Dwell as their starting point.

  • January (3),  The piece is just about finished! - I have a bit of proof reading to do and farm out.
    Then I think I need to put it aside for a week or so, then come back with my 'conductor' hat on, and see if it's any good at all, and can we learn it in time.
    Here are a couple of examples (I was going to include some of the original pencil score, but the typeset version is easier to read).
    Example 1 is the opening few bars, example 2 is the start of the second stanza, and example 3 is the start of the third stanza. The passage remains recognisable, but still changes enough to keep things interesting (and keeps the singers on their toes!).

    Example 1, O Sweet Woods, bars 1-5

    Example 2, O Sweet Woods, bars 30-34

    Example 3, O Sweet Woods, bars 67-69

  • February,  With some final proof-reading to be done and a meeting with John Snowdon (guitar) planned for tomorrow it's all getting ready for the first rehearsal next Wednesday.
    Having included some images of the typeset score, I thought it would be worth while including a couple of scans of the original.
    All my composition is done first in pencil, and I try to keep away from the computer for as long as possible: there are just some things that the computer makes too easy: cut-and-paste, and also editing by squeezing a bit in or out, rather than re-writing the whole passage. I also find that working with pencil gives me a lot more freedom, especially with regard to bar lengths: in both these examples the music was put down first, and the duration of the bars sorted out later.
    Being rather fond of working in pencil I notice when other composers mention this as part of their routine. For example reading this article in sightandsound.com about the composer Wolfgang Rihm, it was nice to hear him answer the question:
    What surrounds you when you sit over your musical composition?
    György Ligeti once said that when composing, he derived stimulation from the odour of a freshly-sharpened Faber Castell pencil.

    One thing I have noticed in these two examples is how the handwriting changes, in example 4, from the opening of the work, it's a bit messy, with crossing out, and shows that I'm still very much working on the page out how the piece will go.
    Example 5, from a few pages in is a lot neater, and shows that I am now a lot more secure in the work's progress: it's a bit less impulsive, more thought out. Also in example 5, you can see how I have the guitar part between the women and men's voices; I guess the idea here is that this part is quite integral to the ensemble, not just added at the bottom as accompaniment. (When it came time to do the printed score I kept the voice parts together for sake of convention.)

    Example 4, O Sweet Woods, pencil score, opening passage

    Example 5, O Sweet Woods, pencil score, "where senses do behold"

  • February (2),  We had the first rehearsal with the choir this week, looking at the last stanza to the end (next week we'll do the 2nd stanza, then the week after the first). It was very encouraging! It's probably worth noting that the proof-reading job Ian and Diana Smith did just made the whole rehearsal run so smoothly and saved a lot of time: without having to stop and sort out half a dozen errors we were able to get straight to the work itself - time well spent!
    At the meeting with John I was relieved to find there were only a couple 'impossibilities' that needed to be corrected. There are a couple of bits of guitar terminology that need to be clarified too. Other than that, it's just a matter of waiting to get the choir up to speed, then we might get John to come along and see how it all goes.

  • April,  Just a quick report on rehearsals - with the performance only a few weeks away.
    I think I've had to change my approach to this work from composer to conductor. To preface, I should say that as composer there is always the temptation to leave everything just as it is and assume that the piece will work come what may. However as conductor I believe you have a responsibility to trust what the composer has written, try to understand what he/she wanted to say, and then do what you can to achieve that goal. Which is a bit of a round-about way of saying that I have had to revise a couple of pages that just weren't working and have been re-written.
    The re-write involved simplifying a couple of the voice parts early on in the work (an especially dense passage that just did not seem to 'work') and the good news is that it seems to have solved the problem and the piece is really coming together.
    Questions of tempo have been interesting as at tonight's rehearsal the pace of the work seemed to be a lot more secure, and (dare I say) seemed to settle on the tempo originally set! In rehearsal I think the tempo has tended to fluctuate quite widely - from doing things quite slowly to lear the parts, then speeding things up to try to get the work to flow. It will be interesting to see how near the performance comes to the duration I calculated going through the work at my desk.
    Finally (in terms of rehearsal) it has been invaluable to have John regularly turn up to work with the choir as it has created a nice colaborative feel to the concert as a whole (which is a pretty good way for musicians to operate!).

  • April,  With 7 days to the performance it's all looking pretty good. We still have two rehearsals, which we will need, but I am very happy with how it's all coming together.
    Speaking of rehearsals, the rehearsal on the Saturday will be open to the public, so if anyone reading this wishes to attend please contact the chorale for details.
    Other than that, it's a bit of wait-and-see, and I hope to have a report on the performance, and even some sound samples, next time I post here.

  • May  Now that the performance is over, some final thoughts. (John has also given me his impressions, recorded during our last rehearsal, these will be added asap)

    • The performance went very well (there was one hiccup at the start, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing). I am really greatful for the commitment shown by all invovled.
      At the moment, my only thoughts about the work are how pastoral it seems... This view has come about thinking about its next performance (!) and thinking of choirs who do a lot of new music, the 'country atmosphere' seems a bit out of placed. However, at the end of the day, the work was meant to fit in with a programme of Tudor works, and I think in this aspect it achieved this goal as well as I could have hoped.




Classical Celebration: 12th October

Concerto for flute and chamber orchestra

  • February,  With O Sweet Woods nearly completed it's time to start on this next instalment.
    I had a meeting with the soloist (Jenny Gogolin) to get the ball rolling. (Jenny was part of the ensemble that premiered my 7 Fragments after Paul Celan in 2006. Her performance of the 3rd Fragment (a flute solo) can be accessed here)
    At the moment there's still a bit of logistic work to do: I know the orchestra for the concert will need (for the Schubert Mass): violins, viola, 'celli, double-bass, trumpets, timpani and organ, and we will also have piano. I think I would like to add an extra percussion (percussion and flute work very well together, but then again, that could almost be an excuse for just sticking with the timpani.) We also talked about adding some wood-wind, a second flute or one or two clarinets.   I think the best approach is to start working out some ideas, given the known parameters, and see what becomes necessary.

  • February (2)  Work is progressing (slowly - in general I don't like to talk about how well a new composition is going, because usually I say it's all zooming along, it's great, all's going well... etc. then I look back and am pretty disappointed with what I have written.) So there have actually been a couple of false starts, but these are now in the bin. - In some ways there's a bit of a satisfaction in identifying that what I wrote the night before was rubbish, but I have to be careful that this satisfaction does not override my desire to write something good!
    I took last Monday off to make a solid start, except Ed had a rotten night (nightmare at 3am) and so I was pretty tired all day - still, having spent a couple of hours I think there's a shape to the work.
    The first section (the work will most likely be in 5 parts) is a flute solo - from which I'm gathering material to incorporate into the rest of the work. - Starting with an instrumental solo I am a little concious that this mirrors the Fragments, (Frag. I was essentially an organ solo), but it does seem a 'sensible' way to start a concertante work.

  • April  ...and I apologise for the delay in posting, it's been hard enough to find time to work on this composition, let alone get to this diary, and as I mentioned in the previous post I tend to get a bit wary of saying how well a composition is going...
    The outline of the work is progressing well - I would like to think I'm well past the half-way mark (in outline, there's still a lot of finishing to be done - for example, I find I tend to leave most of the expressions to the end: when I am sketching out a work they seem obvious and can wait. Dynamics in particular I tend to leave till last becase on the whole they can be quite relative - so if I add any out of context as it were, I tend to have to correct them. If I do have any special direction regarding dynamics I usually mark them in relative terms not too loud, - must be heard especially if the orchestration would usually obscure a line (which can happen quite easily when writing for flute solo!), or when a usually well projected part (unison violins, for example) needs to be back in the texture. The German expressions (found in the second Vienesse scores, Berg and Schonberg): Hauptstimme (pricipal voice) and Nebenstimme (secondary voice) are handy and quite logical - it would be handy (and logical) if they were more widely adopted!)
    As for the shape of the work I'm still sticking with the 5 parts and I'm 3/4 of my way through the 3rd part - the longests.
    So far the parts are:

    • I
      solo flute - quite free in construction.
      I have since been using material (pitch and rhythmic) to generate pitch an rhythmic cells to use in the subsequent parts of the work.
    • II
      flute and vibraphone to the foreground
      Actually, I have only written the flute and vibes parts at this stage - the orchestration will be rather spare, in general echoing the two principal lines.
    • III
      variations on a bass line
      Contrasting with the second, this section of the work (the longest) is built from the bottom up. I mapped out a gradually diminishing bass line - providing an harmonic base to work with (it's quite a traditional sort of model - in its own distorted way. As a bit of a coincidence I have been rehearsing Webern's Passacaglia Op.1 with the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra these past couple of weeks - which is not a bad role model.) By diminishing, bass line starts as a group of 9 notes, then the next sequence is 8 notes, then 7 notes, etc. but the length of each sequence remains the same, so as you go along the speed of the bass line gradually slows down. I guess I'll see how it goes...
    Finally, I was going to have some sketches posted here, but they will have to wait until I get a new battery for the camera.
  • April (2)  Once again there's not much to report!
    While I have been busy (and sort-of creative) it has been preparing the 'studio' to which I will transpose my workspace in the next few days.
    I have been looking at my progress so far (still happy) - but without being able to plan more than a few minutes quiet, I don't really want to start work, only to put down my pencil after a couple of bars. Hopefully the new location will help this - fewer distractions (we won't get a phone/internet connection out there - that's a very good start.)
    Having looked at the sketches a bit here are some thoughts:

    • Ensemble: it's still a bit up in the air, II has clarinet and violas, whereas III has bass clarinet and no viola part. Some of the issues here are actually about personnel, so there might be some phone calls involved, but also, it might just be a case of the ensemble sorting itself out as it goes along.
    • Shape of the work: again, I'm still happy with the planned shape (5 movements). I really haven't thought too hard about the last two movements - I guess I expect they will sort of come together... I do have a vague feeling about how the will turn out (IV rather florid, and big, V a bit gentler - very melodic and calm, there might be a reprise of part of the opening movement, but with accompaniment... I do hope to have some answers in a week or so.
    • Staging: I'm a little surprised I haven't worried too much about the layout, and I'm assuming it might be rather conventional (not that this is by any means a bad thing). I guess the thing to note is that usually, amongst my sketches (especially the very early sketches) there is usually found some sort of seating plan, often establishing a hierarchy between some of the players... who knows, this may become necessary before the work is completed!

    Finally, I had the camera out to take some shots of the study before I move to the studio, and so I took this snap of the sketches above my desk. It's all pretty plain, with (at the top) a few chords and their evolutions, the nine stages of the IIIrd movement bass line, and (at the bottom) a bit of a rhythmic motive, used a little (so far!) in II (at the moment all that I have written for this movement is flute and vibes, whereas III is pretty fully written out (except without any dynamics - I think I have already mentioned this...).

    Planning sketches for flute concerto, April 2008

  • May  Lots of progress! (with Jenny's permission) I've included the email transcript of the past few days:

  • June  Completed! (well, more or less)
    I must say it's been a pretty busy time in the household (check out baby George!), so it's a week or so latter than I had hoped, but the work is pretty much done!

    Concerto for flute and chamber orchestra
    missa brevis
    written for Jenny Gogolin and the Bendigo Chorale Orchestra

    There's still a bit to do - my final corrections need to be added to the type-set score (and I must battle with getting some of the trickier (but not too tricky, really) rhythms laid out correctly... (more of my battle with typesetting music, at times you have to be really determined to write what you want to write, rather than what some software manufacturer thinks should be written!)
    I also have to get together with Jenny to see if she has any comments/corrections for the solo part.
    There was a plan to have a run through quite early (like, about now!), but I think the effort required to get the whole orchestra together might be a bit much - there would likely be too many gaps in the ensemble to make the process really worth-while.

    I'm pretty happy with the work - some parts look a bit better on paper, but I think it should all sound pretty well... It was interesting to hear Tim's recent performance of the Fragments in Melbourne - this went really well and if there's one work lurking behind this concerto it is the Fragments, so in some ways I find myself comparing them - does this new composition come up to the Frags... (it's a bit like choosing your favourite child!). At the end of the day they are different works - different aims (frags a bit more rambling in form than this concerto) and I am particularly aware of the different circumstances in which each work was written... (Frags at leisure (across two years) so it could really 'discover' itself/find its own 'voice'; the concerto was written with a lot more pre-determined (duration, shape, ensemble), and there was a lot less freedom in the composition - that is, freedom to make a mistake: I still have question marks about parts of the Fragments, but these questing have been absorbed in the flow/understanding/evolution of the work). One of the successes (I felt) about O sweet woods was how well it achieved the aim of mixing in with the Tudor programme - so I will be keen to see/hear how this composition fits in with the two masses... initially I was rather reticent to divulge the formal device of modeling this work on a missa brevis, but as I have gone on with the composition this seems more and more integral to the work.

    Hopefully, I'll have some score samples up here soon.
  • September  Preparation for performance
    So, not sure what happened to August or July, except for family commitments, changing jobs, and getting this piece ready for performance.
    There's been quite a bit of work: tiding up the score, then extracting parts. In an ideal world (I say now) I would like to have been able to do the parts by hand - I really do think hand written parts (if they're done well!) can convey an extra feel for the work - typeset parts somehow seem a little soulless... But at the end of the day, typesetting is pretty easy (but still needs to be done well - no blaming the computer/software for any inadequacies!), and it's what players expect to see! (I think there in now a generation of students who may never have played from a hand-written part, let alone an original!)
    I've had a run through with Jenny (ages ago now) and that went very well - it's great the commitment she's shown to this project (and it also pushes me to make sure I reward that commitment). There were only a couple of changes, just clarifying some articulation: especially in the thicker parts, I think it's going to be the flute's attack and characterisation which will help the part cut through. It was also interesting to find a point where I felt a couple of notes should be slurred, only to check and find that I did have this marking in the pencil score, but missed it when I was doing the good copy!
    In addition to the parts, I have just copied the score (please contact the chorale if you would like a copy), and have started to look at it with my 'conductor' eyes... If there is one thing I have noticed so far, it is that I could perhaps have added a lot more courtesy accidents - naturals in particular: there are quite a few points where the texture is quite thin (only a few parts) and two parts are playing a semitone (or a major seventh, minor ninth, etc) apart - it's the nature of musicians in an ensemble to assume this is an error, and either ask if it is correct, or to try to correct it with intonation - hopefully once we get into the piece this aspect of the language will become familiar, and these intervals will sound clearly.
    There's also a bit of cueing to do, and with a lot of rests (it's always a shock to do the parts as the score never really shows how long some parts wait) I might have to produce a table of aural cues to make sure everyone keeps on track.

    Brian Castro text
    I was pleased to receive an email from Brian Castro, granting permission to use a poem from his novel: The Garden Book in the preface.
    It's difficult to explain exactly why I wanted to add this text - I wrote a piano piece a number of years back: Episode V: after Brian Castro's 'Birds of Passage' (2000), and Castro's works have always been 'hovering around' in the back of my mind. I had an idea at one stage of doing a work based around The Garden Book and had extracted all the fragments of poetry. While this project never eventuated, during the composition of the flute concerto I did find myself drawn to this one text, I guess the opening in particular struck a chord. Sometimes I don't reveal all the things going on in the background as I am writing, but in this case I am quite pleased to be able to reproduce this poem:

    If only I could talk
    a language that took away feeling,
    one with tough tongues,
    knowledge in living form,
    cold as stars.
    Yesterday I stripped a piece of bark
    from a well-loved tree.
    Yesterday was you: yesterday was love;
    but it was yesterday I stripped bare.

  • September (II)
    As promised here's some of this piece, Concerto for Flute and Small Orchestra: V: Agnus Dei

  • September (III)
    Just a short report - we had the first rehearsal with a reduced ensemble (solo flute, 2 violins, c.bass, clar, & timp). It was all very encouraging - a couple of changes: some doubling dropped and we'll look at some dynamics, but it all sounded very well and was played as well as you (I) could wish - I'm now quite looking forward to the next couple of weeks.




Christmas with the Chorale ~ and Brass: December

motet for choir, brass ensemble, and organ

  • September  Progress thus far...
    With lots going on (see above) it's about time I gave an update on the Christmas motet.
    And it's a bit of a mixed report - I have been trying to find time to dip in and do some writing, and I have about 3/4 of a piece in (pretty complete) pencil score. The text comes from The Play of Herod and is the welcome given to the Magi: ... While this work has music of its own I have not been tempted to work with the original, and so while some of it may sound 'sort-of-plainsong-ish' it's all new. Because the text is rather short (unlike O sweet woods, where I was able to let the progress of the text dictate the progress of the music) I really had to impose some sort of structure to the piece. In a number of recent works (and the flute concerto may be an example of this), I put a lot of (for want of a better term) effort into the opening, and see if this material might be 'spun-out' through the rest of the composition. With this piece I thought I would work backwards: write and ending of climax, and then produce material which will anticipate this.
    I also thought about how the ensemble (brass in particular) might be arranged in the church - this lends character to the instrumental parts, and enabled a dialogue to develop within the composition.
    Anyway, while there's a good slab of the work done, and I could see how it ends, I think it might be time to stop and start again. Somehow it's just not really working to my satisfaction (I'm not sure if this is partly due to the fact that I will be directing the performance... would I be more critical if someone else was to be presenting the work?). Anyway, I think it's time to start afresh, new text and a new process. It's (AFL) Grand Final day tomorrow, so there shouldn't be any distractions (it's perfectly acceptable not to answer the phone on Grand Final day... even if the telly's off!).

  • December  Return to plan [A]...
    This entry is now a bit late, and sorry to anyone who was waiting for it!
    As it was, with deadlines and other pressures, I ended up looking once more at the start I had made (as described in the previous entry), and felt that there was something in this begining which was worth exploring.
    Part of the solution, so to speak, was to think again about the context of the performance... I had considered the arrangement of the players, I then thought about how this work might function in the sequence of the concert... I ended up exploring all this in the programme notes:

    Christmas with the Chorale - December 2008
    Stella fulgore | Composition | Programming | Farewell

    Welcome to this, the Bendigo Chorale’s last major performance of it’s 2008 season. This concert is significant in two regards: it is the last programme I will conduct as Music Director of the Chorale, and it also features the third premier in the Chorale’s choral expansions project.

    This project (supported by a grant from Regional Arts Victoria) saw the Chorale present a new composition in each of the programmes it presented throughout the year. The compositions were written with the aim of linking the Chorale’s ‘traditional’ repertoire with contemporary music and, as it has happened, each new work has found a different way to make that connection. In the first work (O sweet woods) the linking element was the Tudor text, while for the next composition (the flute concerto) the formal structure of the work was a response to the classical masses which made up rest of the programme.

    For this new composition the starting point was more logistic − the ensemble and venue (both decided at least twelve months ago). Rather in the same way that an artist contemplates a blank canvas (I don’t know, do they really do this? − It seems to be a standard scene in most films about painters...) I often begin a piece by thinking about the venue and ‘populate’ the space with the performers: sometimes one part at a time, with the development of the composition necessitating the addition of a new player; or (as in this case), deploying the ensemble across the space, with the arrangement of the players anticipating the music which I imagine will fill the space.

    Once in position (so to speak) it was up to one of the parts to announce the start of the composition (and programme, as it turned out) − and that role fell to the horn. There are too many precedents to mention, but it seemed a horn 'signal' should be the way for this work to begin. After this two note signal is repeated it is answered (more urgently) by the trombone, with the horn (perhaps, calling for calm) reiterating its original statement. Trumpets (set apart) then pick up the horn’s signal, with embellishment, and by this stage the work had achieved the desired compositional momentum. − So that’s how this work came into being and evolved: it’s part improvisation, part chess game (I’m not good at improvisation or chess, by the way); I even sometimes think of the compositional process as a bit like juggling, where the aim is to keep multiple objects simultaneously moving through the air (I certainly can’t juggle!).

    Regarding the text, my main priority (perhaps after O sweet woods) to work with a shorter text, probably in Latin (Latin gives singers some nice sounds to work with, and while the meaning of words is certainly important, there is a freedom in terms of imposing a musical structure to the text which is not in the vernacular) The text I settled upon adds another layer, in that it comes from a work the Chorale performed at its previous Christmas concert: in 2006 we presented the start of The Play of Herod (singing an adaptation of the original musical setting), up to the point where the angels announce the birth of Jesus. Today’s composition comes from the very next scene, as the three wise men meet before going to the court of king Herod. In terms of the 'feel' of the composition I like the way that the four lines of text captures a moment in time: halfway through a journey this meeting gives the Magi an opportunity to reflect on the events which brought them to this point, anticipate the journey ahead, and before they go on they exchange a formal (but no less meaningful) greeting of peace.

    While I had a rough idea of how this programme would come together it was only after I completed Stella fulgore that it really took shape, and it has been interesting to see how the roles of composer and conductor (which often necessitate a separation) came together. Following on from Stella... I stayed to some degree in 'compositional−mode' asking the question: what comes next? It seemed that the Coventry Carol was a natural next step, but to make the transition smoother I added two short organ pieces (again, rather like written out improvisations). The process then became collaborative: Elizabeth offered the Pachelbel, which lifted to mood as we headed to the first of our 'sing−alongs' (Ding dong, merrily on high in an arrangement by Peter Butler), then we shifted into the bracket of brass pieces presented by Steve, Jacqui, Jane, Josh and Matt.

    The more I think about how this programme has come together, the more fitting it seems for my last performance as Musical Director of the Bendigo Chorale. The works are a mix of very new through to some quite ancient compositions – some are pieces we have performed previously, while some are new to this concert. Unfortunately for me, I find that this mix of old and new does not really help me wind up my time with the Chorale, for example every time we sing the Charles Ives Little star of Bethlehem I think how much I would like to explore more of Ives fascinating output; but really the same could be said for every composer on today's programme.

    What this programme also reflect, what I am most pleased about, and what I will miss most of my time with the Chorale has been the opportunity to work with so many generous and talented musicians in what has been a 'collegiate' environment. To have the brass players, Elizabeth (Paton) and John here today has been a reminder of the friends we have made over the past ten years. Of course central to this musical family has been the singers and our exceptional pianist, Elizabeth. Anything we've been able to achieve has been through their combined dedication, application and enthusiasm.



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Updated 19th December, 2008