"We Change the World is a reminder that we all have the power to make change. This performance features a selection of 21st century compositions by New Zealand composers that celebrate the world we live in but also challenge us to face some of the dark realities of our society and consider what needs to change. Each composer is reacting in their own way to the world we live in, as well as its past and its future. As musicians we are charged with bringing those notes to life and providing a bridge between the composer and the audience.
Preceding each piece will be a movement from Michael Jamieson’s bird song suite, nga manu. Originally for two soprano saxophones, it was written for Duet d'Ocells to be performed at the World Saxophone Congress in Slovenia in 2006 and is performed today on oboes with permission from the composer. Ngā Manu Nature Reserve is located in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast of the North Island and offers a sanctuary to native flora and fauna. Sanctuaries like this prove to us how nature can thrive when we treat it with respect. The three movements depict three native New Zealand birds: 1) kea – a large, curious and sometimes destructive parrot found in the mountain ranges, 2) tui – the native songbird whose beautiful virtuosic melodies are interrupted with deep, guttural groans, and 3) ruru – the tiny nature owl who inhabits the nocturnal landscape.
Ben Hoadley’s oboe trio takes us on a journey through the wonderful natural environment of New Zealand. Each of the three movements are inspired by coastal scenes: Miramar Peninsula at the entrance of Wellington Harbour, Ohope Beach in the Bay of Plenty and Turakirae, a wild stretch of coastline at the very bottom of the North Island, with its beautiful shifting light and tides. It is an illustration of what is at stake if we do not take care of the environment we live in.
Since the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985, New Zealand has been at the forefront of nuclear activism. John Rimmer takes inspiration from the 1970s anti-nuclear poem “No Ordinary Sun” by Hone Tuwhare in his oboe quartet, Fragile Earth. Here, Rimmer and Tuwhare are talking about the fragility of the earth in terms of nuclear warfare, but it is applicable in so many ways, from climate change to the destruction of ecological habitats.
Scored for a chamber ensemble of string quartet, oboe and piano, Shadows Cross the Water was written to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of New Zealand’s first refugees in 1944 from Poland to Pahīatua. It makes us reflect on the terrible and dislocating movement of children in times of war. The title Shadows Cross the Water has three meanings: literal shadows crossing water, refugees escaping across the Mediterranean, and also, two close friends of Whitehead – Peter Maxwell Davies and Jack Body – had recently died and were moving on to the next realm.
So, how can we change the world?"
– Noah Rudd (oboe)
Learn more about, and to book tickets to this free performance at NGV Australia here.