MP3 Derek Strahan, Joshua Tsai, Stan Kornel, Margaret Lindsay - Celebrating Australia
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CLASSICAL: Chamber Music, CLASSICAL: Programmatic music
"Celebrating Australia" RDS 007 - Total duration: 76.10
CONCERT MUSIC & FILM MUSIC BY AUSTRALIAN COMPOSER DEREK STRAHAN
PROGRAM NOTES BY THE COMPOSER
SEE END FOR COMPOSER'S BIOGRAPHY
STRAHAN: PIANO TRIO NO. IN F (1987) composed for the Australian Bicentenary of 1988. (Duration: 33.17)
Recording of live broadcast during Oz Music week January 1988, at 2MBS, St. Leonards, Sydney.
JOSHUA TSAI â PIANO, STAN KORNEL â VIOLIN, MARGARET LINDSAY â CELLO
This work was commissioned by The Sydney Ensemble as a work to be performed on Australia Day (January 26) 1988, as a contribution to the Bicentenary celebrating two hundred years of European settlement in the continent which became known as Australia, dated from Captain Cook's First Landing. It was performed at a Champagne Breakfast given in Centrepoint Tower, the highest vantage point in Sydney from which to observe the events staged on the waters of Sydney Harbour involving a spectacular sail past of many different kinds of sailing vessels. It was given a second performance later that day at a Champagne Lunch. It was also recorded for broadcast on national radio by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and given a live performance at Sydney's fine music station 2MBS during Oz Music Week. The recording of that performance was first released on a JADE CD (see above). As that CD has sold out, here is the re-release of the live recording of the 2MBS broadcast.
The circumstances of the first performance influenced the nature of the work. I judged that it should be a tuneful and celebratory piece. Nevertheless, the conceptual process began with some considerations of historical and political context, as indicated in the following notes, which were written as a preface to the music score.
The twin concepts of Freedom and Equality are simple to state and to describe. However, it has proved extremely difficult to apply these concepts, given the tendency of humans to evolve social organisations inspired by greed and designed to protect and serve the interests and privileges of entrenched minorities.The written record suggests that it is only during the last 200 hundred years that the human race has made any serious global attempt to outlaw unjust practices based on discrimination against people on the basis of class, caste, race or creed. This novel experiment in social justice began in Europe during the eighteenth century with a movement known as the Enlightenment, which provided the philosophical basis for both the French Revolution and the American Constitution, and its influence still pervades today. It is a fragile venture, by no means assured of success. Everywhere in the world we see attempts to retain or revert to social systems that deny absolute Freedom and Equality in law to all citizens.
The period of this rare social endeavour coincides almost exactly with the existence of the Australian nation, as defined by the period of European settlement. It is ironical, therefore, that the majority of the first Europeans were brought to Australia in chains, and that these same Europeans and their masters immediately set out to enslave and debase the original inhabitants of the continent. However, this kind of behaviour was quite consistent with the known conduct of the human race over the previous six thousand years of known history and doubtless also during the eras known as pre-history.
It was my wish to celebrate the Enlightenment ideals in music for Australia, as indicated by the titles given to the movements of my Piano Trio No. 1 in F. In doing this I am seeking to further a practice engaged in 200 years ago by many composers, including both Mozart, in most of his operas, and Beethoven, who explicitly embraced the ideals of the Enlightenment in his only opera âFidelioâ and in his setting of verse by the poet Schiller in his 9th symphony.
In the year of the Australian Bicentenary, 1788, Beethoven, aged 18, was absorbing the new politics of his age, through friends and tutors in Bonn, most of whom were members of a radical sect of Freemasonry known as the Illuminati. Beethoven remained true to these ideals throughout his life. In writing my Piano Trio, I sought to pay homage to the âEnlightenmentâ composers who celebrated and perpetuated in music the desire for freedom. For the above reasons, this work is neo-classical, and in the form of a traditional Piano Trio of Beethoven's time, this being also the time of Australia' s First Landing. I have made no concessions to academic concepts of what "contemporary" music should sound like. The work is therefore full of tunes.
1. FREEDOM. This movement in sonata form has a broad melody as its first subject. The second subject is a cheeky jazz-based tune that gives the music a twentieth-century reference. In the development section, various attempts are made (no doubt by the enemies of freedom!) to stop the first subject being played. These futile attempts at repression and censorship do not succeed, and the first subject returns for the recapitulation. There's a surprise when the second subject is re-stated. We find that, all along, it has been the counter-melody to a well-known Australian folk-song ("Click Go The Shears"), which takes over to bring the movement to a close. Duration: 12â36â
2. EQUALITY. Australia today is a multicultural society, and in this Scherzo & Trio we hear rhythms and melodies that echo the music of Eastern and Southern European cultures. These regions produce fascinating songs and dances, which are widely played in ethnic communities throughout Australia. I was reminded of this in 1988 when I was invited to co-judge a Macedonian Song Contest at the Marrickville RSL Club. (Re: RSL Club, see note below **) My enjoyment of that evening is reflected in this movement. The Scherzo is 9/8 time (subdivided 2;2;2;3), the Trio is in 5/8 time. Duration: 6â57â
3. LOVE. Composers of the Romantic movement wrote âloveâ music in an era when love for love's sake was regarded as a subversive idea, and was presented as such in many opera libretti which depict death as being the penalty for falling in love across social barriers. Itâs easy to forget today, in âWesternâ countries, that the right to fall in love with anyone is a democratic right guaranteed by law. It's a freedom that should never be taken for granted. In many countries on this planet the battle to establish this particular freedom is still being fought. This movement presents an adagio melody in AABA form in statement and two variations building to a Coda. Duration: 7â49â
4. THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. The fourth movement is a little soufflé, a passing moment. Many of our moments of greatest happiness are like this. Gone in a flash. We value them in retrospect. The main theme is in 6/8 time, as were many of the light-hearted Rondo finales of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. But this movement is not a true Rondo, as the main theme is heard only twice (instead of the obligatory three times). The contrasting section begins as a melancholy, almost mediaeval melody, which is transformed into something more joyful. The brief Coda re-asserts our right to happiness, and to the enjoyment of life. Duration: 5â55â
**RSL stands for Returned Servicemenâs League. The clubs are an institution, for long open to membership by the general public, kept afloat financially by subscription and by poker machines. The clubs provide many popular social amenities, including sensibly priced food and popular entertainment.
The music score and parts of this work can be ordered at Derek Strahanâs website â http://www.revolve.com.au
FILM MUSIC BY DEREK STRAHAN
Music direction in all recording sessions by the composer
STRAHAN - ARTISANS OF AUSTRALIA
Music for a Film Documentary Series (1984-85) â (13â44â)
Recorded at 3 sessions at Film Australia, Linfield, Sydney (1984/1985)
MICHAEL KENNY- KEYBOARDS ; HOWARD OBERG â RECORDER & FLUTE;
JOHN CRAN â BASSOON; ULPIA ERDOS â HARP; VOJTEK HLINKA â VIOLIN;
ALEX TODICESCU â VIOLA; CLAUDIA DOUGLAS â CELLO; DANIEL MENDELOW â TRUMPET IN Bb/IN C; DEBORAH HART â FRENCH HORN.
The Award-winning âArtisans Of Australiaâ was directed by Paul Humfress in 1984/85 for Film Australia, as a 4-part series of film documentaries on traditional crafts still being practised in Australia. It was widely shown on TV in Australia and overseas, on cable and on film and video in education. I devised an original theme of Irish character to provide me with the basis for a series of miniatures to depict work on timber, iron, glass, stone and plaster. (See back inlay for track titles) These recordings of music specially composed for the series are released on CD by kind permission of Film Australia.
Session 1: Flute/Recorder/Bassoon/Keyboards/Organ â Tracks 5 to 12
Session 2: String Trio & Harp â Track 13
Session 3: Viola, Cello, Trumpet, French Horn â Track 14
STRAHAN â âALIENS AMONG USâ
Music for Film Documentaries (1974) â (7â03â)
Recorded at Studio 301, Sydney, 1974.
KEVIN MURPHY - CLARINET;ERROL BUDDLE â FLUTE (*DOUBLING CLARINET); ROBERT GOODE â HARPSICHORD; MICHAEL CARLOS - MOOG SYNTHESIZER; JOHN SANGSTER, DEREK FAIRBRASS- PERCUSSION
This Suite of 6 short pieces is drawn from music written for two Australian film documentaries, âAliens Among USâ and âGarden Jungleâ which were given repeated showings on national TV, shown widely overseas and used in education. Made in 1974 by Densey Clyne and Jim Frazier, these used innovative micro-photography to reveal strange and sometimes macabre detail about the life of insects dwelling in Australian suburbia. For example: âMurder in Miniatureâ was written for footage showing a female St. Andrews Cross spider killing and eating her mate after mating! Two original themes heard in counterpoint in the title music are then developed separately in the following two tracks, and other ideas follow. (See back inlay for track titles)
Recording released on CD by kind permission of Mantis Wildlife Films.
Tracks 15 to 20
STRAHAN â âIN THE ATTICâ
Upstairs Baroque, for String Trio & Flute (1968) (2â10â)
LINDA VOGT â FLUTE; GORDON BENNETT - VIOLIN;
WINIFRED DURIE â VIOLA; BARBARA WOOLLEY â âCELLO
This was written as a playful exercise in baroque style â to sound like a piece discovered in an upstairs room! To record it, professional equipment was in fact placed in an upstairs attic room of a North Sydney house, hence it can be said to have received its first performance âin the Atticâ. The gifted performers soon after recorded several sessions of film music for me in more conventional venues. The 1968 recording was made on analogue tape, at 15 i.p.s.
STRAHAN â TRANS AUSTRALIA SUITE
Music for a Film Documentary (1968) â (20â01â)
Recorded in 2 sessions: full ensemble at Supreme Sound, and then a quartet at Channel 9 TV station, 1968.
COLIN EVANS â FLUTE; LINDA VOGT â FLUTE; GORDON BENNETT â VIOLIN;
WINIFRED DURIE â VIOLA; BARBARA WOOLLY - âCELLO; CLARENCE MELLOR â FRENCH HORN; (RECORDS LOST â TRUMPET, TROMBONE);JOHN SANGSTER & DEREK FAIRBRASS â PERCUSSION; DEREK STRAHAN â CONDUCTOR
This Suite is drawn from a film score commissioned by Robert Raymond in 1968 for a Documentary by the Leyland Brothers on their epic transit of Australia in a 4-wheel drive vehicle, screened on TV as WHEELS ACROSS AUSTRALIA. Three themes provide the basis for this music which consists of varying treatments of an original melody (Trans Australia), the Queensland version of âWaltzing Matildaâ and the traditional Australian folk song âThe Shearerâs Dreamâ. As indicated in track titles (see back inlay), this selection portrays transit from the West coast through the interior to the East coast. Extreme weather conditions were experienced ranging from a serene stop at a billabong through travel in desert heat to a sensationally filmed rainstorm on Uluru. All themes are contrapuntally combined in the finale. The music was recorded in 2 sessions, a full ensemble at Supreme Sound Studios, and a quartet (flute, viola, âcello, French horn) at TCN-9. The documentary was produced by Robert Raymond for TCN-9 and the Leyland Brothers. (See back inlay for track titles)
Tracks 22 to 37
DEREK STRAHAN â BA CANTAB
Derek Strahan was born in Penang, Malaysia on May 28th 1935, and spent his early childhood in colonial Malaya. He was evacuated with his mother and sister to Perth, W.A, when Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942. In 1946 the Strahans settled in Northern Ireland and Derek completed his schooling in Belfast. He obtained a scholarship to study at Cambridge University, where he graduated in 1954 with a BA Cantab (Modern Languages) (French and Spanish). At university, he maintained a commitment to music and also developed an interest in theatre and cinema, acting in a number of university productions. From 1954 to 1960 he worked in London as relief teacher, actor, singer-songwriter and assistant film director making commercials. In 1961 he returned to Australia and settled in Sydney, where he combined composing film and concert music with work as film director, scriptwriter, actor, singer/songwriter, lecturer and, currently, script assessor for the Australian Writersâ Guild. His compositions include music for over 30 films documentaries, 3 feature films, over 20 works of concert music encompassing solo, ensemble, vocal and orchestral pieces. Much of his film and concert music has been released on CD, and, since 1982, has been consistently broadcast on national radio. Strahan's music is melodic, making use of polyphony and polymetrics, and has attracted performance by distinguished artists, including Lauris Elms AM OBE, David Miller, AM, Georg Pedersen, Michael Scott, Alan Vivian and Michael Askill.
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