9 Candles for Dark Nights
for solo harp (2005)
duration: 8’
GRT • 111


score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
The soft, rough strike of matches.
Black space interrupted by a single yellow flame, joined in turn by others.
Illumination established, a subtle breeze stirs an ebb and flow,
bending simple arcs of flame, flickering through deep tunnels of night.
Moments of reverie drifting back into consciousness and a final dampening of candles,
gently fizzing back to darkness.

9 Candles for Dark Nights was commissioned by Matthew Hindson for the 2006 Aurora Festival. It was written for Marshall McGuire to play at a concert by candlelight.

At the time of writing this piece (April 2005), six navy and three air force personnel serving aboard HMAS Kanimbla died when their Sea King helicopter crashed while delivering aid to the Indonesian island of Nias. At a national memorial service their names were read out and nine candles lit. The title of this piece was independently conceived but the coincidence is striking and my thoughts are with them.

"The program clincher was a work written for McGuire in 2006 by Australian composer Stuart Greenbaum. 9 Candles for Dark Nights is just as evocative as its title suggests. McGuire's beautiful delivery of the work's spacious undulations and gently clashing notes had the audience riveted."
Rosalind Appleby, The West Australian, August 2010

“Stuart Greenbaum’s transparent textures and unabashedly diatonic harmonies leave space for the audience to consider the poetry and art with which his works are often coupled. The timbral and rhythmic subtlety of his work lends itself to the harp, which featured in all three of the works in this concert curated by ANAM harpist Jessica Fotinos. Nine Candles for Dark Nights for solo harp, performed with great sensitivity by Fotinos, features a meditative, wandering ostinato inflected with harmonics. Fotinos integrated the melody’s cross-rhythms into the gentle flow of the piece with absolute ease like the “bending arcs of flame” of the nine memorial candles flickering in Greenbaum’s poem.”
Matthew Lorenzon, Real Time Arts, May 2014

“A solo harp piece, 9 Candles for Dark Nights (2005) concludes the suite of pieces. Written for the Aurora Festival of Living Music to be performed at a candlelight concert, it is purposely gentle, almost ambient, in its approach. That said, it is an excellent vehicle for the nuanced playing of the soloist, Jessica Fotinos.”
Michael Hannan, Music Trust E–zine, 5 June 2016

This recording, released on ANAM’s own imprint, features seven Academy musicians with harpist and ANAM alumna Jessica Fotinos, performing three works by Greenbaum in which harp plays a central role. Nine Candles for Dark Nights is solo harp piece written for Australian harpist Marshall McGuire that explores and expands the sonic capacities of this instrument. This is a tremendously accessible collection of works that balances the obvious beauty of the harp with subtly nuanced complementary sonorities. The performances are fresh and exciting, and it’s to be hoped that we’ll see many more recordings on the ANAM label by young musicians of this calibre.”
Lisa MacKinney, Limelight Magazine, 29 July 2016