Comprising three sections, the score begins with a calm nocturnal atmosphere with plaintive oboe calls and a tranquil, lyrical music about the moon and stars. Simple, sustained arpeggios accompany the voice.
The central section of the work, scored for oboe and piano, is a response to McAuley’s image of “the exquisite circumspection of the stars treading the heavenly floor”. The musical ideas in this section include a “music-box” style piano figuration and an oboe solo featuring emotive, yearning phrases of disjunct intervals.
The final section of the work begins with solo voice (“And insolent hope surprises my sole heart”). Piano tremolos enter to accompany a pairing of voice and oboe and the work builds to a climax which reflects on the spurious glimmer of a dawn upon the infinite, the nevermore.
Grateful acknowledgement is made of HarperCollins Publishers for allowing me to set James McAuley’s poem to music. Also, my sincere thanks is extended to the Grevillea Ensemble and Guest Artist, Diana Doherty, for giving the premiere performance of the work.