LYRAE (2017)

2 percussionists, piano, strings (2.2.2.2.1)

Duration: 11 minutes

Commissioned by the Queensland Academies Creative Industries campus

Premiere: 25 August 2017. Brisbane, Australia.

Program Notes:

Lyrae was commissioned by the Queensland Academy Creative Industries campus for their 10th anniversary celebrations. It is the second piece in a series of works inspired by the night sky, which has become an object of fascination whilst completing residency projects across Western Queensland over the past four years. In these remote communities, bereft of light pollution (and internet access), I have spent many evenings star gazing. One of the interesting aspects of the night sky is the way in which at first glance you only notice the brightest stars in the sky, however, the longer you look, the more stars reveal themselves. Layers upon layers, with complex and beautiful textures that change as you observe them. Some stars flicker, coming to the fore as others recede into the background. Some are coloured in varying hues of yellow or red, some are part of larger constellations, and some collections of stars are so distant that they only appear as a faint blur across the sky. 

 

I was particularly captivated by the ability to view the two Magellanic clouds with the naked eye. Using stars of varying luminosity (RR Lyrae), astronomers have recently located a narrow bridge of pulsating stars between the two Magellanic clouds. It is believed that the gravitational pull of the larger cloud is drawing individual stars from the smaller cloud towards it. This 'bridge of stars’ moving between the smaller and larger Magellanic clouds is a fitting analogy for the occasion at which this this piece will premiere. The concert features works by current QACI composers, as well as alumni composers who have recently started tertiary studies, and others who are beginning to navigate their way from tertiary institutions into the greater arts community. Musically, the concepts of the night sky are reflected through pulsating gestures, through the continual shift of focus from musical gestures that represent the stars themselves to those that represent the negative space (the darkness) between the stars, and through layered textures in which musical ideas come to the fore, then recede into the background as attention is captured by new ideas.