Artistic Director & Conductor Jung-Ho Pak selected these Listening Links for our upcoming April 1 & 2 show Passport Down Under especially for you. Enjoy!
The hallmark of the Cape Symphony’s Passport Series is authenticity. Passport Down Under, conducted by Australian Carolyn Watson, will take you on a provocative musical journey that includes rarely performed symphonic music from Australian composers and Aboriginal music created by the pre-eminent didgeridoo musician in the world, William Barton.
Written by a Scottish-born Australian named Peter Dodds McCormick in 1878, "Advance Australia Fair" was adopted as the national anthem in 1974, replacing “God Save the Queen,” which then became known as the royal anthem. The song was performed by a choir of 10,000 people (!) in 1901 at the inauguration for the newly named Commonwealth of Australia. Ten years after he wrote it, McCormick was paid 100 pounds by the Australian government. In this video, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performs the arrangement by Peter Sculthorpe that the Cape Symphony will present.
The tune of "Country Gardens" probably started out as part of an 18th century English opera, and was used in the 19th century for Morris Dancing (a kind of English folk dancing). Australian composer Percy Grainger arranged it for piano in 1918; this version became very popular, and he later orchestrated it, creating a work that is often performed today. In this video, Arie Vardi conducts the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
One of Percy Grainger’s most famous original works is “The Immovable Do” (“Do” as in “Do, a Deer”) in which, as he explained in his notes on the score, “the ‘immovable Do’ is a high drone on C which is sounded throughout the whole piece.” Watch this video of the Philharmonic Wind Orchestra’s performance at Victoria Concert Hall in Singapore.
In 1988, Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe was inspired by Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage site in northern Australia, to write “Kakadu.” Sculthrope said, “This enormous wilderness area stretches from coastal tidal plains to rugged mountain plateau, and in it may be found the living culture of its Aboriginal inhabitants, dating back for fifty thousand years.” The melodies in “Kakadu” were suggested by Aboriginal chant. With guest artist William Barton, who will perform it with us at Passport Down Under, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Symphony Orchestra performed the piece at a special concert in 2014 commemorating the life and music of Peter Sculthorpe.
The Cape Symphony will perform a medley from iconic Australian films. Listen to the main themes from The Man from Snowy River, Gallipoli, Crocodile Dundee, and Babe. Note that the music from Babe was adapted from Symphony No. 3 by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.
“Apii Thatini Mu Murtu (To sing and carry a coolamon on country together)” is a recent piece for didgeridoo and orchestra by our special guest William Barton. William was commissioned to compose this piece by The Honorable Anthe Philippides, recently retired Judge of the Court of Appeal of Queensland and one of Queensland’s most well-known citizens. In 2021, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and William Barton performed the world premiere; watch the video. William said, "To hear your piece being played by not only one musician, but by a whole orchestra, is very powerful and very humbling."
Another William Barton original that he’ll perform with the Cape Symphony is “Didge Fusion” from his 2014 album Birdsong at Dusk. William says, “My passion is to create a journey for people through music and present to them a diversity in musical styles with the didgeridoo and engage with audiences about the uniqueness of Australia.” In this video, William performs the piece solo, but he’ll be with our orchestra in April!
Finally, you’re going to want to watch this video in which William Barton and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform a surprisingly moving orchestral version of the famous Men at Work song “Down Under.” The occasion was the memorial service for former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, held at the Sydney Opera House in 2019 with thousands of dignitaries attending and millions watching on TV. We can’t wait to witness William performing with our own Cape Symphony.