Commissioned by the Australian National University as part of the H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship
First performance by Tor Frømyhr (violin) and David Pereira (cello), Llewellyn Hall, ANU School of Music, Canberra, 4 October 2019
- The Sea – 2. The Mirror
I have a long-standing love of Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, and more than once have borrowed titles from it. Rough Magic, for solo harp; The very end of harvest, for viola and piano; Sounds and sweet airs, for flute and clarinet; Thin Air, for solo piano: they are all named after phrases from the play. Epithalamium sets words from the masque scene in Act IV.
In a way, The Sea and the Mirror is another piece from The Tempest, though at one-remove. Its title comes not from Shakespeare but from W.H. Auden’s long poem based on Shakespeare’s play, part analysis, part retelling, part gloss.
I read the two parts of Auden’s title as representing real life (the sea) and art (the mirror), and at one level my music aims to match this interpretation, with a first movement that is full of hectic, unpredictable and sometimes violent change, followed by a calm examination of some of the same musical information.
The piece is dedicated to my friend Kim Williams, partly as an apology for beginning to sketch it in my mind while in the audience at his 2017 Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address (you can’t always help where and when an idea for a piece takes hold), and partly because Kim himself has spent much of his time reflecting on the points of contact between life and art.
It was composed for Tor Frømyhr and David Pereira, during my year as H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellow at the Australian National University, and first performed by them at Llewellyn Hall, ANU, Canberra, on 4 October 2019.