O Oriensis, opus 24 (1986)
O Oriensis is a short work for four-part choir accompanied by marimba, piano and organ. The work was commissioned by 4MBS-FM and the Music Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. It was composed in early 1986 when the composer was living in London. The work is dedicated to the composer’s parents and is a setting of a simple text by the composer. The word ‘Oriensis’ refers to the bright morning star in the East – a mythical symbol of hope.
O child of light.
O source of light.
O light of light.
O send us peace.
The setting is melismatic on the words O Oriensis, but otherwise declamatory in style. The organ part can be performed by any type of organ (electronic or traditional) as its part simply picks up the ‘acoustic horizon’ of sustained pitches outlined by the voices, piano and marimba.
Like other works composed at this period (including Etudes Espace for organ) there is use of resonant and sustained tones that hang in the atmosphere. These very soft resonant and sustained pitches are eventually contrasted with the lack of resonance provided by silence at the critical moment of the work, on the words: “O send us peace.” The work was given its first performance in 1987 by the University Singers conducted by the composer at Christ Church St Laurence in Sydney. Memorably, at the moment of silence, a distant police siren could be heard from the world outside — as if bringing home the plea for peace at that point.