This a cappella choral score, entitled Tides of Ocean, was commissioned in 1998 for performance by The Australian Voices, directed by Stephen Leek.
A number of my earlier works for The Australian Voices have been inspired by the work of the poet / writer Victor Carell. When asked, then, to compose a new score for The Australian Voices to perform during their upcoming overseas tour, I eagerly returned to Carell’s poetry and chose to set his poem entitled “Tides of Ocean”.
Carell noted, in writing about the poem, that he came to Australia in 1947 to appear in the musical “Annie Get Your Gun”. He travelled in an ex-Liberty ship named the Marine Phoenix which was one of the first passenger ships after the war.
“It was my return home to Australia following ten years absence”, Carell wrote. “I eagerly sought the first sight of the Southern Cross as we dipped south.”
The musical setting of the poem falls broadly into four (continuous) sections. The opening section comprises a rhythmic and lively music as the choir sings of standing over “tides of ocean.”
There follows a calmer music as the poem carries us into the night with images of moon-paths and flying fish flashes, culminating in a “southward dip” which involves all the tenors and basses descending to their striking lowest registers.
The slowly emerging Southern Cross and the excitement of its presence is reflected in the third section of the work by the gradual accretion of voices forming a natural crescendo. Like a frame for the work, the choir returns to the opening music before concluding.
A few of the known performances…
Since its world premiere performance in Warwick, QLD by The Australian Voices in 1998, Tides of Ocean (for a cappella SATB choir) has been performed by many different choirs in many countries. Here’s a list of just some of the known performances:
Above: San Marino Chamber Choir (California, USA), conducted by Tammi Alderman @ Auditorio de Siero, Asturias, Spain (1 April, 2014).
• Acappellago, directed by Dennis Smith @ Event Hall at Mayslake Peabody Estate, Oak Brook, IL., USA.
• West Virginia University Chamber Singers @ Creative Arts Center, Morgantown, WV, USA.
• Australian Boys Choir & The Vocal Consort (2017 Season), dir. Noel Ancell @ Hawthorn Arts Centre, Hawthorn VIC, 3122, Australia.
• West Virginia Collegiate Honor Choir, conducted by Christopher Kiver @ WV ACDA 2017 Winter Conference, Charleston, WV, USA.
• Swensk Ton, directed by Nils Kjellström @ Concert tour – Düsseldorf-Wersten, Bochum-Süd, Essen (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany).
• Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, dir. Brett Weymark @ Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, NSW, Australia.
• Asia Pacific Youth Choir, directed by Stephen Leek @ 2015 EXPO, Milano, Italia.
• Taipei Song-Yung Choir @ Taipei, Taiwan.
• Acappellago, directed by Dennis Smith @ Oak Brook & Batavia, Illinois, USA.
• Pennsylvania State University Concert Choir, directed by Dr Chris Kiver @ President’s Concert, Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA.
• The Biola Chorale, under the direction of Shawna Stewart, with the Women’s Chorus, directed by Carol Aspling, and Men’s Chorus, directed by John Tebay @ Crowell Music Bldg., Lansing Recital Hall, The Conservatory of Music, Biola University, La Mirada, CA 90639 USA.
• Kansas All-State High School Choir, conducted by Dr Edith Copley @ 2013 Kansas All-State High School Choral Festival, Century II Convention Center, Wichita, KS, USA.
• 2013 Oregon All-State High School Choir, conducted by Dr Edith Copley @ National Association for Music Education’s Northwest Division Conference, OMEA/WMEA All-State High School Choral Concert, Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Or 97232 USA.
• Voyces, directed by Dr Robert Braham @ Perth Town Hall, Perth WA 6000, Australia
• Choir of Monte Vista Christian School @ 2012 Spring Concert, Monte Vista Christian School, Watsonville, California, USA.
• Mac-appella, conducted by Rosalind Ho @ “Music Under a Southern Cross – A showcase of Australian Musicians & Songwriters”, Macquarie Theatre, Macquarie University, NSW, 2109, Australia.
• The Kansas City Comrades & Tallgrass Chamber Choir of the Flint Hills, conducted by Jacob Narverud @ Old Mission United Methodist Church, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
• Australian Boys Choir, with The Vocal Consort, conducted by Noel Ancell OAM @ Melba Hall, University of Melbourne, Royal Parade, Parkville, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
• 2011 California All-State Mixed Honor Choir, conducted by Dr Edith Copley @ Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento, CA 95814, USA.
• 2010 Nebraska All-State Chorus, conducted by Edith Copley @ Lied Center for the Performing Arts, University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, Nebraska, USA.
• GBK Chamber Singers, Santa Cruz, California, USA.
• The Australian Voices, directed by Stephen Leek @ National Concert Hall, Taipei City, Taiwan.
• Brighton Secondary School Concert Choir, directed by Annie Kwok @ ANZAC Day Dawn Service, Brighton, South Australia.
• Sacramento State University Choir @ “Choralfest 2010″, Sacred Heart Church, Midtown Sacramento, California, USA.
• Bel a cappella, directed by Stephan Kooper @ St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Newtown, NSW, Australia.
• Mt Mansfield Union High School Select Chorus, directed by Caleb Pillsbury @ Annual Holiday Fair, The Cathedral Church of St Paul, Burlington, Vermont, USA.
• Mount Eden Chamber Singers, directed by Mr Ken Rawdon @ Golden State Choral Festival 2008, California, USA.
• San Francisco State University Chamber Singers, directed by Dr Joshua Habermann @ St Alberts Priory, 6172 Chabot, Oakland, California, USA.
• Taipei Chamber Choir 2007 World Window Series – Natural Sound – Taipei Chamber Choir, conducted by Chen Yun-hung @ Novel Hall, 3-1 Sungshou Rd, Taipei, Taiwan.
• Wesley Institute Choir, directed by Dr David Johnston @ Gala Concert, Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival, Golden Hall, Musikverein, Vienna.
• Concordis @ the culmination of Australia’s largest choral competition, broadcast live around the country on ABC Classic FM and around the globe via the ABC website, City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney, Australia.
• Gondwana Voices @ Melbourne, Australia.
• Da Capo Singers, Canberra ACT, Australia.
• Polyphony, directed by Kirk Hume @ The Crypt, St Mary’s Cathedral , Sydney, Australia.
• Churchill County High School’s “Minor Details” (advanced choir) @ NZNMEA State Solo & Ensemble Festival, Nevada, USA.
• Concert Choir (University of North Dakota), conducted by Anthony Reeves @ St Michael’s Catholic Church, Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA.
• The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir (International Tour) @ The Guild Church of St Katharine Cree, Leadenhall Street, London, UK.
• Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Choir, directed by Neil McEwan. (ABC Classic FM broadcast coinciding with the eve of the chamber choir’s departure for Europe in which it sang in the prestigious “Bela Bartok Choral Competition” in Hungary and the Vienna Festival, as well as a number of cathedrals and churches in Austria and Germany).