New Norcia


brass and percussion
Brass Ensemble
0000 - 0431 - perc(2): tam-t/ch.cym/tom-t
First Performance
FP: (recording) 2000, Australia, ABC Classics recording: Adelaide SO/James Judd

Score 0-571-56560-3 (fp) and set of parts 0-571-56561-1 (fp) on sale

Programme Notes

Peter Sculthorpe New Norcia for brass and percussion In 1846, the Mission of New Norcia was founded in Western Australia by two Spanish Benedictine monks. A strong musical tradition developed there, originating with one of the founders, Dom Rosenda Salvado. Under him a choir, a string orchestra and a band were formed, the three groups eventually consisting almost entirely of Aboriginal performers. A compassionate man, Salvado was often in conflict with colonial officials over their mistreatment of Aboriginal people. During the second half of the nineteenth century, New Norcia was one of the few places in Australia where Gregorian chant was sung. In a letter to Spain, written in 1878, Salvado mentions that ‘our boys and girls sang in two parts the Laudate Dominum, as they do every time they come to High Mass’. Salvado regarded music in its every form as a gift from God. His diaries, in fact, demonstrate a considerable understanding of Aboriginal chant and ritual. They contain what are probably the first significant writings on the subject. Unlike much of my music, New Norcia makes no references to Aboriginal chant. It is, however, firmly based upon the plainchant melody Psalmus 150, a song of praise for the Lord through music. In New Norcia, the six verses of the plainchant are each stated twice, the verses separated by either a short episode or an interlude. The latter are in regular metres, forming a contrast to the irregular metres of the plainchant, which differ from verse to verse. It seems to me that the Aboriginal children of New Norcia might have made some contribution of their own to the liturgy, and I have no doubt that Dom Salvado would have enjoyed this. For them, I have added drumming to the two interludes, the final verse and the coda. Peter Sculthorpe

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