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A Wolfe in the mangroves (2007)

Prepared piano and percussion quartet. 24:00.

A Wolfe in the Mangroves (Concerto for prepared piano and percussion) is a summation of ideas and sounds developed over a period of eight years – my entire life in Australia, up to that point. And while the music of American composers like John Cage and Terry Riley is an important influence, it’s the work of a plethora of Australian experimenters that has inspired me to take these ideas further. Pianists Stephen Whittington, Ross Bolleter, Anthony Pateras, and Chris Abrahams, or percussionists Vanessa Tomlinson, Sean Baxter, and Will Guthrie come to mind.

While composing the piece I found rhythms from my everyday life spilling into the music, so that while listening to the piece I hear the breathing rhythm jogging by the river, or the syncopation of the car door falling shut. Other sounds that have surfaced in the piece include hypnotic, trance-like waves, the mechanical tinkling of miniature music boxes, and a somewhat skewed Batucada (Brazilian Samba) band.

A Wolfe's six movements function in three pairs, each exploring a different instrumentation and approach. Parts 1 & 4 use flexible tempos – rubato, accelerating and decelerating tempos – and emphasize instrumental colour. Parts 2 & 5 focus on driving drum ostinatos and blisteringly fast, interlocking patterns in the piano, glockenspiel, and xylophone. Parts 3 & 6 present a more intimate sound experience, delving into the miniature world of toy instruments.

My deep thanks to Bruce and Jocelyn Wolfe for giving me the chance to realize this vision, and to Vanessa Tomlinson and Ba Da Boom percussion for all their support.

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