This orchestral work, steeped in three compelling movements, finds its muse in M.C. Escher's evocative woodcut, Puddle (1952). The orchestration, with its carefully structured movements, takes the listener on a profound journey, embodying a range of emotions and soundscapes.
The opening movement is introduced by an emotive solo clarinet melody, echoing the sacred vocal call to prayer. This melody, with its transcendent quality, sets the tone for the entire piece, drawing listeners into its introspective space. The melody acts as a bridge, linking the realms of the divine and the human, mirroring the purpose of the call to prayer in spiritual traditions.
The second movement diverges from the expressive to the serene. It experiments with articulations of the harmonic series through diverse orchestral timbres, crafting a soundscape that is both meditative and sublime. This movement invites listeners into a realm of tranquility, providing a peaceful counterpoint to the emotional intensity of the first movement.
The final movement is the most extensive and commences with a mournful passacaglia, underpinned by a heart-beat-like bass drum and the resonating chime of tubular bells in an asymmetrical 7/4 time signature. As the piece progresses, it escalates to a full orchestral climax, a passage of sound that is simultaneously manic and tearful, a tangible outpouring of emotion expressed through music.
This remarkable orchestral work was composed for the University of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and it had its premiere at the esteemed Melbourne Recital Centre in 2019. In the creative process, the composer ingeniously reimagined fragments from his 1997 electroacoustic piece, recontextualizing these materials into a fresh and innovative musical form.
The composition carries a profound dedication to the families impacted by the tragic Christchurch mosque attacks in 2019. These attacks, which shocked the global community, have left a deep imprint on the collective consciousness. The composer's decision to dedicate this piece to the affected families offers a poignant musical tribute, encapsulating shared grief and offering solace through music. The piece also acknowledges the influence of Persian music, showcasing the composer's ability to blend diverse musical traditions in a unique and sensitive way.
In its entirety, this orchestral work serves as a profound memorial to those lost in the Christchurch mosque attacks, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a tribute to the power of music to communicate, heal and unite.