Shining Island - Remembering Henryk Górecki


String Ensemble
Dedicated to Henryck Górecki
First Performance
14.5.2011, Canberra International Music Festival, St Christopher’s Cathedral, Manuka, Australia: Canberra Festival Camerata incorporating the ANU School of Music Chamber Orchestra/Tor Fromyhr

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

I was greatly saddened when I learned that Henryck Górecki had died last November. He and I became good friends in 1994, at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Wales. I dearly treasured our friendship. I so much wish that I’d been able to stay with him in his beloved Tatra mountains in southern Poland. Henryck was always full of bonhomie. Underlying it, however, was a brooding melancholy. This, of course, informs his profoundly-affecting music. As I came to know him better, he’d sometimes mutter ‘After bad there is worse.’ I’d say, ‘Come on, Henryck: after bad there’s better.’ ‘No,’ he’d reply, ‘after bad there is always worse.’ One day, he ventured, Perhaps for you, coming from that big shining island, in the south, after bad there is better. For me, for many of us here, after bad there is only worse. Shining Island is concerned with the emotions contained in the above conversation. In its slowly-moving first part, the downward-turning phrases represent Henryck’s voice and the upward-turning phrases mine. Henryck’s voice is more impassioned in the second part, which begins with the distant sound of music from the shining island. It was inspired by an Indigenous children’s song from Australia’s north. Towards the end of the work this music and Henryk’s voice become as one. This final section is underpinned by a low ‘C’ pedal, which I always use to signify god, the god of all beliefs. P.S.

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