Program notes

As wave drives wave, opus 115 (2021)

Andrew Schultz’s As wave drives wave for choir is an unaccompanied setting of memorable lines from Ovid’s Metamorphoses which he in turn drew from Pythagoras’ The Eternal Flux. The motion of the waves and their restless renewal is used as a metaphor for the certainty of perpetual change in the universe. The imagery in Ovid’s text is very beautiful and possibly even a little melancholy – or maybe granitic and philosophical and hence, sadness is irrelevant. In this choral setting the text has been adapted and personalised by the composer.

This six-minute piece is based on slow-moving harmony with sequences of overlapping and interlocking chords – as if unresolved suspensions were waves pushing waves. The work is an eight-part SATB choir setting but a lot of the work is really in four parts with pairs of voices starting in unison and then splitting apart.

As wave drives wave was commissioned by the Brisbane Chamber Choir and their Artistic Director, Graeme Morton, and was composed and revised over 2021-23.

The superb photographic art at the top of this page is from Kazuumi Takahashi’s Eternal Flux (Le Pont Rouge, Paris, 2016) and takes as its starting point the same words of Pythagoras.


 

Since I have embarked on

endless sea and set my sails,

I now do know this:

 

As wave drives wave,

And each, pursued,

Pursues the next.

 

For what was before is left behind;

And what was not, now is;

And each moment is new.

 

So time, flies on and follows,

Always, forever new,

And is always new.

 

For neither the river

Nor this tide can

Can stop their flow.

 

I say:

There is nothing

In the whole universe,

Nothing that persists.

 

For that which once was is now gone.

Text is adapted by the composer from Ovid, Metamorphoses, Bk XV:176-198, “Pythagoras’s Teachings: The Eternal Flux.”

Andrew Schultz ©2021/23

The score of As wave drives wave is available at www.mortonmusic.com