Songs of Sea and Sky


by Peter Sculthorpe

flute and piano
First Performance
(recording) July 1987, Australia: Geoffrey Collins/David Miller

Piano score and part 0-571-55310-9 (fp) on sale

Programme Notes

Songs of Sea and Sky was commissioned by the School of Music, Yale University, upon the retirement of Keith Wilson. The work is based on a traditional dance song from Saibai, an island just south of Papua New Guinea, in Torres Strait. This song was collected on Saibai by Jeremy Beckett in May 1961. Much of the surviving music of Torres Strait is concerned with sea voyages, flights of birds and changes in sea and sky. Some of the music has been influenced by hymns introduced by missionaries in the nineteenth century. This work, then, is in one continuous movement consisting of six parts: a somewhat dramatic clarinet solo; Saibai, a straight-solo, suggested by a flute melody from eastern Torres Strait; Mission Hymn, a variation of Saibai; an energetic section shared by clarinet and piano; and Wei, a further variation of the dance song, an affirmation of one-ness of sea and sky.

Peter Sculthorpe

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