3(=picc)-3-3(III=bass cl)-3(III=contrabsn)/ 4-3-3-1 / timps / 3 perc / pno / hp / strings
Commissioned by Kim Williams in partnership with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Adelaide Guitar Festival
First performance by Zane Banks (electric guitar), Adelaide Symphony orchestra conducted by Benjamin Northey, Adelaide Guitar Festival, Town Hall, Adelaide, 13 August 2016
for electric guitar and orchestra
Raga is a concerto for electric guitar and orchestra and it consists of two structures superimposed. First there is the Western concerto that combines a soloist with an orchestra, mostly (in my piece) co-operating, occasionally in opposition, and with an improvised ‘breakout’ section or cadenza before the final big conclusion. Then there is the classical Indian raga of the title: a slow, exploratory Alap leading to a more melodic Jor, followed by a strongly rhythmic Gat in two parts, fast and faster.
Behind the piece lies my childhood memories of a moment in musical history (the late 1960s), when Western pop discovered the centuries-old music of the Indian subcontinent, made explicit not only in the intermittent appearance of a sitar in songs by the Beatles and others, but also in the way that bands such as the Grateful Dead explored long-form ‘jams’ that resembled ragas. So while my Raga sounds neither Indian, nor like rock and roll, the soloist might best be thought of as a combination of Ravi Shankar and Jerry Garcia.
Raga was commissioned by Kim Williams in partnership with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Guitar Festival, and written for its dedicatee, Zane Banks.