Program notes

Tonic Continent for violin, cello and piano, opus 61 (2000)

This work for violin, cello and piano was written for The Griffith Trio. The work opens out from a hushed opening and although less than ten minutes in duration is expansive in mood. The words I would best use to describe the piece are hovering and anthem-like: ‘hovering’ in the suspended harmony which is always tied to low, rich bass notes in the piano, and ‘anthem-like’ in its transparently tender mood and the hymn-like passages that dominate much of the writing. I owe the title, Tonic Continent, to a former student, who used the phrase, ‘continents of tonic’ to describe the emotional effect that comes from the slow movements of harmony in my Symphony No. 1 – In Tempore Stellae. I like the idea of slow moving continental plates as symbolic of a type of inexorable tonal motion. Writing the work in the London gloom in early Spring 2000 that remembered vastness seemed to me to represent Australia, the tonic continent. The piece was commissioned with funds from the Australia Council for the Arts.

© Andrew Schultz, 2000.