1(=picc)-1(=cor ang)-1(=bs clar)-1(=contrabsn) / 1-1-1-1 / 2 perc / accord / pno / hp / strings*
* String parts may be played by small sections (say, 5-5-3-3-2), or by soloists
Commissioned by the New Juilliard Ensemble and the West Australian Sympohony Orchestra, funded by a composer fellowship from the Music Board of the Australia Council for the Arts
First performance by the New Juilliard Ensemble conducted by Joel Sachs, Alice Tully Hall, New York, 24 April 2006
Scenes from Bruegel (2006)
for chamber orchestra and prerecorded sounds
i . Children’s Games
ii. Hunters in the Snow
iii. The Peasant Wedding Dance
This piece began as an attempt to “translate” into music three of my favourite paintings by the 16th-century Flemish master Pieter Bruegel (or Brueghel or sometimes Breughel). Apart from the sheer impossibility of the original undertaking, I came slowly to think of the piece in more local terms. I live in Robertson, a town with a population of about a thousand in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Each day as I walk to the post office I pass the local primary school and there in the school playground,
as often as not, I witness the noisy, hectic acting out of Bruegel’s “Children’s Games”. I began to wonder if it would be possible to include some of the sounds of this town in my piece.
Accordingly, in the first movement you will hear the voices of Robertson school children. The second movement features several local birds, including the Australian Raven, the Gang-gang Cockatoo, the Australian Magpie and the Pied Currawong. And in the third movement the Robertson Public School Band plays a little march that is eventually taken up by the chamber orchestra.
Scenes from Bruegel was composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra between August 2005 and January 2006, the work funded by a fellowship from the Music Board of the Australia Council, the Australian government’s arts funding and advisory body. It is dedicated to Richard Rodney Bennett on the occasion of his 70th birthday.