Sonnet, to the Comet of 1825 (for a cappella SATB choir) was composed in 2017 and won the inaugural Willgoss Choral Composition Prize UNSW. The world premiere performance was given on 20 September 2017 at Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW, by the Burgundian Consort, directed by Sonia Maddock.
My setting takes as its text a poem by Rev. Dr John Dunmore Lang (1799 – 1878). Penned in 1825 while on a voyage from England to Australia aboard the “Medway”, Dunmore Lang’s poem powerfully evokes the sight of a bright comet whose fiery tail, as far as its blaze extends, sweeps the stars and proclaims “th’Almighty’s reign.”
To convey the energy and portent of the poet’s images in my setting, I have sought to use thematic material which is at times fanfaric in nature. I have also utilised choral textures which are kaleidoscopic in effect, whereby layers of voices are kept perpetually in motion by subtle oscillations, akin to cogs and wheels spinning to form part of a greater synchronicity.
I have also sought to score onomatopoeic / atmospheric elements amidst the choral parts from time to time, including sibilant “Shh” sounds, bird-like whistled tones and exhalations. These elements – crafted to bring to mind the sound of crashing waves, sea gull calls, star dust and ‘the mists of time’ – are included as an evocation of Dunmore Lang’s voyage and to bring out the perspective from which he witnessed the great celestial event. – M.O.
SYDNEY, 29TH MARCH 2017
I am thrilled and honoured to have received news that my piece, Sonnet to the Comet of 1825 (for a cappella SATB choir) has been awarded the inaugural Willgoss Choral Composition Prize, presented in association with the UNSW Music Performance Unit.
I sincerely thank Richard & Sue Willgoss and the UNSW Music Performance Unit for this generous award and especially for their support and encouragement of Aussie choral music! I look forward to the Burgundian Consort’s world premiere performance in September, 2017. – M.O.
SATURDAY 19 MAY 2018 *WA Premiere Performance*
Performers: Voyces, directed by Dr Robert Braham.
Program: “Sorry I Missed You”.
Venue: Trinity Uniting Church, 72 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA, 6000, Australia.
WEDNESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER, 2017 *World Premiere Performance*
Performers: The Burgundian Consort, dir. by Sonia Maddock.
Program: Sacred choral works including Stanford, Eslava, Rutter & di Lasso, plus the premiere performance of Matthew Orlovich’s Sonnet, to the Comet of 1825, winner of the inaugural Willgoss Choral Composition Prize.
Venue: Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW Sydney, Kensington, NSW, Australia.