Sonata for Cor Anglais and Piano (2018)
duration: 23’
GRT • 203


score available soon from
Australian Music Centre

program note
Sonata for Cor Anglais and Piano is written for Celia Craig and David Barnard. It is the 13th in a series of sonatas written in the new millennium. The subtitle is taken from Kieron Connolly’s book, Abandoned Places (Amber, London, 2016) – collected photos of derelict, forgotten and reclaimed buildings. I chose five pictures that most captured my imagination. The descriptions below for each movement are Connolly’s words. The first three movements feature the cor anglais and piano together, but then the duo itself is abandoned, leaving the piano alone in the 4th movement and then the cor anglais solo in the final movement.

I. Pripyat, Ukraine
Momentarily it may look serene, but there are no cars, the roads haven’t been snowploughed, and there are no lights anywhere. In fact there isn’t a soul to be seen. But then Pripyat has been void of residents since 27 April 1986, when its 50,000 inhabitants were evacuated on the day following the Chernobyl nuclear power station explosion. Chernobyl can be seen on the horizon towards the left.

II. Plymouth Courthouse Building, Montserrat, Caribbean
When the Soufriere Hills volcano erupted in July 1995, Montserrat’s capital, Plymouth, was completely buried by ash. Following further eruptions, two-thirds of the population left as half of the island became uninhabitable. While almost buried, the roof of Courthouse was still visible along with half the clock-face, stopped at 2 o’clock. In theory, Plymouth is still the capital, giving it the unusual distinction of being the only ghost town that is also a capital city.

III. Clapham North deep-level air-raid shelter, London, England
During Word War II, eight deep-level air raid shelters were constructed beneath London Underground tunnels. Able to accommodate 8,000 people each, the shelters had bed bunks, canteens, toilets and medical posts. After the war the shelters were used for archive storage or, even, as temporary hostels. Since 2012, Clapham North shelter has been used as an urban farm, growing herbs and salad leaves.

IV. Ernest Shackleton’s Hut, Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica
During their 1907–09 Nimrod Expedition, Ernest Shackleton’s team built this hut at Cape Royds. Shackleton didn’t return to the hut after his failed attempt to lead the first team to reach the South Pole, but instructed that it be left in good working condition for any future parties.

V. Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, northern Jutland, Denmark
Situated on top of a cliff, the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse was built in 1900 and ceased operating in 1968. With coastal erosion and continually shifting sands a major problem in the area, it is anticipated that by 2023 the cliff will have eroded so far that the lighthouse will fall into the sea.