Score: a cappella SATB choir
Duration: circa 10 minutes
Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium
Available from: contact the composer
On Sutherland’s Grave (1991) received the ‘Highly Commended’ award in the 1991 2M.B.S.-F.M. Young Composers’ Competition and received its first performance by The Song Company, directed by Roland Peelman, in a live broadcast from 2MBS-FM (Sydney) Studio C, in Oz Music Week 1992.
The work has received numerous subsequent performances from choirs including the Brisbane based Cantus, directed by Graeme Morton, the Sydney based choir The Contemporary Singers, directed by Antony Walker and Elliott Gyger, and the Ronald Dowd National School for Singers’ Contemporary Choral Group, directed by William Moxey. The work has also been included on national and international tours of The Australian Voices, directed by Graeme Morton, and the Sydney Conservatorium Chorale, directed by Neil McEwan, and was performed at the 4th World Symposium on Choral Music, Sydney 1996, by the Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir, conducted by Antony Walker. In 2003 the work was included in the international tour repertoire of the Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir.
On Sutherland’s Grave draws upon three distinct texts:
from Selected Poems of Henry Kendall, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1927.
“Journey to Birdsville Nov. 1966″
from The Log and Field Book of Sir Russell Drysdale
[ML MSS 4191/6 Item 21]
“Requiem aeternam” from Missa pro defunctis
In composing the work, each of the three texts suggested its own unique musical treatment. Of particular significance to the overall work was the text of Henry Kendall’s poem of 1860, which describes the wailful sea lamenting that Forby Sutherland, one of Captain James Cook’s sailors, had been buried ashore shortly after the Endeavour anchored in Botany Bay in 1770.
Excerpts from Missa pro defunctis are used – at times, fleetingly- to complement the nature of the work, while at other times, I have introduced, by means of narration, whispering and humming, some extracts from ‘Journey to Birdsville Nov. 1966’, from The Log and Field Book of Sir Russell Drysdale, which describe the artist’s observations of the outback and his thoughts upon visiting the ‘Dig Tree’ at Camp 65 of Burke’s expedition.