Earth Cry


orchestra, with optional didjeridu
Full Orchestra, Solo Instrument(s) with Orchestra
Instrumentation – 4431 – timp – perc(3): tam-t/ch.cym/bongos/3 tom-tom/BD – strings – optional didjeridu - 2 insts required in Db & A

Commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Company

First Performance
22.8.1986, Festival Theatre, Adelaide: Adelaide Symphony Orchestra/Jorge Mester

Score 0-571-51843-5 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Earth Cry My initial idea for this work was to write the second piece of a projected Mangrove series. I found, however, that my thoughts were more concerned with Australia as a whole than with particular parts of it. For instance, whenever I have returned from abroad in recent years, this country has seemed to me to be one of the last places on earth where one could honestly write quick and joyous music. I decided, therefore, to write such a piece. Reflecting upon this, it soon became clear that it would be dishonest of me to write music that is altogether quick and joyous. We still lack a common cause, and the self-interest of many has drained us of much of our energy. A bogus national identity and its commercialisation have obscured the true breadth of our culture. Most of the jubilation, I came to feel, awaits us in the future. We need to attune ourselves to this continent, to listen to the cry of the earth, as the Aborigines have done for many thousands of years. Earth Cry is a straightforward and melodious work. Its four parts are made up of a quick ritualistic music, framed by slower music of a supplicatory nature, and an extended coda. It owes a debt to a setting of Aboriginal poetry, The Song of Tailitnama, that I completed in 1976. While the music of Earth Cry is very much in my own personal idiom, the treatment of the orchestra represents a new departure. This is particularly noticeable in the way that instruments are doubled. First and second violins, for instance, sing in unison for most of the work; and lower strings often sing with the lower brass. I have done this in order to summon up broader feelings and a broader landscape. Peter Sculthorpe

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News & Reviews

'Earth Cry' reviews

‘… a sombre, impressive score with many passages of striking and original beauty. Haunting melodies, reiterated like some primitive incantation, seemed to speak, admittedly in an entirely indefinable way, with the authentic voice of this country.’ The Advertiser (Australia) (Stephen Whittington), 23 August 1986 Read more

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