- orchestra, with optional didjeridu
- Full Orchestra
- 2(II=picc).2.2.2 – 4430 – timp – perc(2): ch.cym/BD/tam-t/chime – strings
Commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation especially for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra
- First Performance
- 2.7.1993, Perth Concert Hall, Perth, Western Australia: West Australian Symphony Orchestra/Jorge Mester
- Programme Notes
- It seems that on Easter Island, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, there was a population explosion. The inhabitants stripped the island of trees, causing soil erosion and depriving themselves of building materials for boats and housing. Retreating to caves, clans fought each other, and finally there was enslavement and cannibalization. By the time the first Europeans arrived, in 1722, the survivors had even forgotten the significance of the great stone heads that still stand there.Easter Island is a memento mori (literally, ‘remember to die’) for this planet. The concern of this work, therefore, is not with what happened to the inhabitants of Easter Island, but with what could happen to all of us, with what could happen to the human race. Much of the music, then, is dominated by the oscillation of the pitches G and A flat, which the astronomer Kepler, a contemporary of Shakespeare, believed to be the sound of the planet Earth. I have also used part of the plainchant Dies Irae, from theLatin Requiem Mass.Memento Mori is a straightforward work, in one movement. Following an introduction, two statements of the plainchant lead into music of lamentation, music based upon the Kepler premise. Two further statements of the plainchant lead to the climax; and this is followed by music of regret, and the offering of the possibility of salvation. It might be added that both the time signature and tempo are constant throughout, in keeping with the slowly-unfolding nature of the music.P. S.