Songs of Sea and Sky


solo violin, string orchestra and optional didjeridu
String Orchestra, Violin
First Performance
5.4.2005, Ten Days on the Island Festival, Hobart, TAS, Australia: Peter Tanfield/Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Songs of Sea and Sky was inspired by a traditional melody from Saibai, an island just south of Papua New Guinea, in Torres Strait. The melody was collected on Saibai by Jeremy Beckett in May 1961.
Although some traditional Torres Strait music still survives in its original form, most of that heard today is strongly influenced by the religious music introduced by missionaries in the nineteenth century.. Nevertheless, its themes are still predominantly of sea voyages, flights of birds and changes in sea and sky.
The work is in one continuous movement consisting of seven parts: Prelude, for cellos and didjeridu; Saibai, a reworking of the traditional melody; Interlude, mostly for solo violin, double bass and didjeridu; Mission Hymn, a variation of Saibai; Dance Song, a rhythmic section based upon the material presented in the Prelude and Interlude; Lament, a second variation of Saibai, and Postlude. Following the climax, at the end of the Dance Song, the emotional content of the music culminates in the solo line of the Lament. Here, the music yearns for the years before white settlement, while accepting that the indigenous people
today inhabit two worlds.
Songs of Sea and Sky was originally a work for clarinet and piano, commissioned in 1987 by the School of Music, Yale University, to mark the retirement of the distinguished clarinet teacher, Keith Wilson. The present arrangement was made especially for Peter Tanfield and the Tasmanian Conservatorium Orchestra.

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