Project Description

Composer’s Note

Bird of Paradise (for soprano, violin & piano), a setting of James McAuley’s poem entitled “To the Holy Spirit”, was composed at the request of the acclaimed Sydney-based trio, the Grevillea Ensemble.

In three stanzas, McAuley’s poem focuses on the magnificent Bird of Paradise which, plumed with glowing iris, descends from the high mountain to visit regions of eucalypt and palm.

With a piano part inspired by sounds of wind chimes, the setting commences with a depiction of a calm morning scene. The soprano, against violin counterpoint, sings of the bird as “plumed with glowing iris along each curving wire”.

The central section of the work makes dramatic use of the ensemble and calls for a heightened level of rhythmic energy as accompaniment to the poet’s evocation of the prophetic bird’s dancing in rippling spectrums of fire.

The third section of the work involves a gradual flowering of the music. Against pizzicato violin, the soprano sings of a sacred rhythm, a rhythm which inspires “the trembling breath of the flute” and “the exultant cosmic psalm.”

A shimmering progression of piano tremolo chords forms a background to the violin and soprano as they journey towards the work’s colourful conclusion.

Matthew Orlovich,

Score Sample

Score sample: Bird of Paradise (for soprano, violin and piano, 2002).

Score sample: "Bird of Paradise" (for soprano, violin & piano) – By Matthew Orlovich.

“Bird of Paradise”
(for soprano, violin and piano)
PDF Scores and Licensing available

Bird of Paradise


soprano, violin & piano

James McAuley

c. 5 minutes

1st December, 2002: Performed by the Grevillea Ensemble (Wendy Dixon, sop.; Marina Marsden, vln; David Miller, pno) @ Crows Nest Performing Arts Centre, 6 Holtermann Street, Crows Nest, NSW, Australia.

Matthew Orlovich

To be assigned

If you would like more information about this score, feel free to email me.
I look forward to hearing from you!