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Endling for orchestra (2006)

For some time I have been trying to find ways to reduce and clarify what I do, preferring the embarrassment of a transparent nakedness of idea to a superficial modernity. Better a single clean line than a messy and obscuring profusion. My aim has been to find a poverty of means that is both elemental and communicative. An ideal musical world for me is one in which to change a single note alters the balance and meaning of a piece.

The scoring of Endling is a mixture of browns and greys – intermingled and dappled blended colours provided by restricting the orchestra to two horns, timpani and strings.  The work falls into three broad sections each built in different ways around an oscillating melodic figure of a fourth or a fifth and seconds. Harmonically, the work falls and rises over thirds. Rhythmically, the work is in 3/2 with its ambiguities of stillness and dance, light and dark.

Nature has defined the “endling” as the “last surviving individual of a species or plant.” This piece flows from a feeling of immense regret and sorrow about all that has been lost from the face of the earth. Beautifully adapted plants, animals and societies that are no more and have been replaced by what? A world of ugliness, material obsession, perpetual and pointless change, and the hideous “marketing” of everything from a symphony to a child’s smile. And we are all utterly caught up in it, in the post-God world, where even repudiation is another category fit for commercial exploitation.  There is only a stoic solitude – the resignation of the endling – and the pure core of human experience to sustain us.

Endling was commissioned by Symphony Australia for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.  The First performance, was given by the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arvo Volmer, at the Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, on 14 November 2007.



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