Wednesday 12:30pm, 14 October 2015
Sydney Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra
Conductor: Dr Michael Duke
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
About First Light at Uluru
Limelight magazine – Read about the compositional aim, inspiration & Europe premieres:
Concert Program Note for First Light at Uluru for saxophone orchestra
First Light at Uluru (2015) was commissioned by the Queensland Conservatorium Saxophone Orchestra and Diana Tolmie for world premiere performances at the 2015 World Saxophone Congress featuring 30 saxophonists in Strasbourg, France, Selmer Saxophone Showrooms in Paris, Ulverston in England with the Royal Northern College of Music, and other Australian ensembles in Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne.
First Light at Uluru has since been recomposed for wind symphony for a premiere at the ANBOC festival, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Beaugeais’s newly adapted version for wind symphony was recorded by world-renowned didgeridoo player, William Barton, and the Royal Australian Navy Band for their 2018 CD “Spirit of Place”.
Both versions of First Light at Uluru continue to be performed around the globe including Professor Kyle Horch and the Royal College of Music saxophone orchestra in London, Adelaide Wind Orchestra, US premiere by the Texas Woman’s Wind Symphony, and the Japan premiere by Conductor Colonel Takahiro Higuchi and Japan Ground Self Defense Force Central Band, Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre Concert Hall.
First Light at Uluru is inspired by the spectacular sunrise over Uluru – Australia’s most famous icon. Also known as Ayers Rock, it is a giant red rock in the middle of Australia’s desert, with the ground made up of red soil. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. Uluru means ‘Earth Mother’, and the 8.6 square kilometre rock is believed to hold a powerful energy source and marks the place where Dreamtime began.
First Light at Uluru begins with soothing air vibrato wind sound effects to reflect the peaceful and spiritual atmosphere of Ayers Rock, where only the soft wind gusts can be heard. As the sun slowly rises, soft, dream-like melodies gradually build up to chorale-like passages, exploring the beautiful, lyrical sounds of the saxophone orchestra. At dawn, the giant red rock changes colour, producing an illuminating red and orange glow. This is conveyed by a fusion of trance-like multiphonic and quarter-tone timbral trill effects that showcase the distinct palette of colours the saxophone orchestra can create. The technical sound possibilities when writing for a large number of saxophones are highlighted when all players improvise over a fast, semiquaver motif to produce a loud, kaleidoscopic, collage-like, textural sound mass that gradually transforms into soft, air wind sound effects.
The compositional aim of First Light at Uluru is to showcase how unconventional contemporary playing techniques can also be used to create unique, calm, expressive and atmospheric passages, rather than in a modernistic style commonly associated with avant-garde repertoire.
© 2020 by Katia Beaugeais
For Sample Sheet Music: