Repertoire - Australian Works

Tres Imágenes Norteñas - Andrian Pertout

Tres Imágenes Norteñas or Three Northern Images was especially composed for the From a Silence Well project. The work represents an attempt to explore some of the aesthetic principles of Japanese art music, incorporating a combination of gagaku (court orchestra music) and shomyo (Buddhist chant) concepts of “elastic or breath rhythm” and “stereotyped rhythmic patterns”, the juxtaposition of polymodal and polytonal pitch materials based on the In, Hirajoshi and Kumoijoshi scales. The work is a contemporary interpretation of the tripartite jo-ha-kyô form common to not only the gagaku genre, with its three slow, medium and fast tempos essentially delineating the “introduction, exposition and denouement".

Sky Shalom - Kevin March

The concept for Sky Shalom is based on a work of the same name by American artist Joshua Osburn. The works in Osburn’s “sky” series share a common theme. They consist largely of softly shaped gestures configured in evocative asymmetrical patterns reminiscent of (and alluded to in the titles) cloud/sky patterns. Because Osburn’s works are charcoal on paper however, one is left to determine for oneself whether the depictions are white clouds against a dark blue sky or malevolent clouds against an overcast sky.

The formal elements of these works, Sky Shalom, in particular, led me to speculate about a type of musical form that consists of a series of similarly styled and related musical gestures separated by open space. Would the focal points that result be the gestures themselves or the silent space in between them? How might the isolated gestures coalesce into longer musical phrases? And what might this journey through a musical sky be like for the listener?

Murrundindi River - Dindy Vaughan

Murrindindi River for solo harpsichord (from CD Up The Creek) is strong and free-flowing. The tree-fellers have come and gone, devastated the forest, lain down, died, while the forest has grown again over the bones of old railtracks and rusted machinery. Wise and enduring, the river flows freely and rejoices.

Red Moon - Philip Czaplowski

In 2000 there was an eclipse of the moon that was clearly visible in Melbourne, and I remember my wife and I standing transfixed — in the early hours of the morning — as the moon took on a startling but beautiful red hue.

Contrast - Ichiro Seki

On the surface, the shakuhachi and the harpsichord may look quite different but as the delicate sound of the harpsichord is quite similar to the koto, I found that this combination appealed to me as a Japanese composer. Contrast is divided into three movements: Lento, Shakuhachi Solo, Moderate-Allegro. Commissioned by Teruo Furuya and first performed in 1997 .

Imagined Red - Taran Carter

Imagined red is essentially a response to the images and stereotypes of Outback Australia. It begins with an arid, dry landscape and progresses through many of the outback’s faces; unpredictability, yearning, rain, and once again aridity. Perhaps ironically, the piece was begun in tropical far-north Queensland and finished in Melbourne; hence the imagery is more imagined than experienced. This is the romantic Outback more than the harsh reality that it undeniably is. Imagined Red is dedicated to and written for Anne Norman and Peter Hagen, two immensely talented musicians who have inspired this piece as much as the landscape has.

Incantations - Sylvia Simons

Incantation took its initial inspiration from one of my flute improvisations. It develops from repetitions and variations of the first phrase heard, but also makes use of tritone motives and a whole tone scale to break it up. The repetitions invite the performer to make full use of the Shakuhachi's capacity for timbral variations and nuances, as do individual long held notes, e.g. by bending notes, using various ways of attacking the note or by playing a phrase in a 'muted' manner. Even though the music is written clearly measured in 6/4 time, the phrases are meant to be quite fluid and can be sped up or slowed down at the discretion of the performer. The music evolved almost 'organically' and leaves space for 'silences', as well as space for the performer to exploit her interpretative skills and the subtleties that the Shakuhachi is capable of. As the title Incantation suggests, the piece has a meditative quality that ties in with one of Shakuhachi's traditions."

Distant Cry - Trad. Arr. Hagen/ Norman 1998

This is an arrangement of one of the most famous shakuhachi zen meditation honkyoku entitled Shika no Tone. Peter has developed performance techniques to meet the micro-tonal slides and subtle timbral demands of the music. The original shakuhachi duo is said to depict two deer standing atop separate mountaintops calling to one another, and is generally performed antiphonally. Upon hearing this unconventional arrangement, Japanese dancer, Machiko Kaneko, observed that it felt to her as The Cry of Nature and Humanity’s Response.

Brendan Colbert - 'Immer' (2002)

Immer [German: always, ever] concerns itself in various ways with notions ofsimplicity/complexity, [the title of the piece coming from a quote attributed to Beethoven concerning his desire to make his piano writing ‘immer simpler’] and conflict/resolution, [the unusual combination of Shakuhachi/Harpsichord, their respective traditions/histories, playing with/against each other].

The shakuhachi is also at times called upon to play material that is normally considered to be rather outside its comfort zone - the result therefore being somewhat uncertain. It should be noted that on these occasions it is not so much the achievement of a perfect performance that is important; it is the pursuit of such.

Robert Dahm - 'Dissolve the Floors of Memory' (2003)

This piece introduces themes which are later substracted from newer material until the piece has dissolved itself. Both instruments use techniques outside their normal idiomatic playing styles, often borrowing from the palette of the other instrument.

Peter Hagen - 'Sakura Prelude' for harpsichord & shakuhachi (2001)

Sakura (Cherry Blossom) is perhaps the most well known Japanese melody outside Japan. Peter's arrangement is a beautiful marriage of the Japanese pentatonic 'In' scale (common to most classical koto works), and the diatonic music tradition of the Baroque. Peter also has ambitions of writing a Fugue on this theme.

Le Tuan Hung - 'Scent of Time' duo for shakuhachi & harpsichord (2001)

Scent of Time is a short viniette using punchy rhythms and a quirky modality. It is crafted as the musical companion for the following lines:in a fragment of time ~ memories return ~ with the scent of time

Jill Lowe - Suite for shakuhachi & harpsichord (2001/ 02)

Prelude; Butterflies - Reflections over Water. Adelaide composer, Jill Lowe’s initial inspiration for this composition was from attending a recital by the duo ‘Questing Spirit’ in Adelaide in 2001, and her long standing interests in ‘harpsichord, Japanese culture, Zen, and Buddhism.'

Dindy Vaughan - 'Prayer for Restoration of our Rivers' (2001-04)

This ever expanding suite, written by Melbourne composer and environmental activist Dindy Vaughan, reflects specific sections of Victorian rivers, all of which are severely threatened by human interference. Dindy's writing is expressive and programatic, evoking the spirits of the land and water in the locations she knows so well. Dindy's aboriginal roots seem to shine through in her deep association with place. Planned to include more movements than listed here, the movements performed by Anne & Peter so far include:

  1. Lacrymae is a lament for the degradation and destruction of our rivers, the life blood of the land.
  2. Pound Bend - Yarra River - the water moves strongly with turbulence, there is collision and confluence of European and Aboriginal cultures, present time moving swiftly and changing, strongly challenging and reshaping. Deep in the water is the reflection of trees - both European and indigenous - and rocks more ancient than any human influence, the bones of the earth. The harpsichord deliberately reflecting European baroque style, converges with the fluidity of rapid interchange. The shakuhachi represents depth; in water, in thought, in space, time and concept.
  3. Murray River – Pental Island, Swan Hill. Movement and stillness; water reflections, inundation hollows in brown, gunyahs on the river bank, chanting frogs, birds – clear cantors – benedictus of red river gums, far distant lines of trees, eternal arching sky. The Ever-Present: reconciliation.
  4. Goulburn River. Shakuhachi is the free spirit of air, rising, far above the land, a living entity embracing love, enfolding earth, sky, water. A spirit out of time, beyond human dimensions. Harpsichord is grounded in the stream of life flowing through the land - immeasurable in time, steady in acceptance, constant, renewing.
  5. Wimmera River - Lake Hindmarsh. Opening bars give rise to the first gusts of wind (shakuhachi) over the stillness of the land (harpsichord). As wind begins to blow the voices speak – uplifted voices, asserting ownership, full of authority and confident in power, in tune with the land, at one with the earth. The river is the life-blood of the people, the earth and all creatures – unity and harmony above all. Contrasting sections do not represent opposing ideas or feelings – they are different expressions of the same intense unity. Stern, enduring, masterful, peace-giving; love is absolute. In the second half, the wind drops completely; the world stands still, sunlight golden, birdsong crystal clear, all drenched in overpowering perfume of wattle. Fulfilment, completeness, consonance.
  6. Snowy River