Upon the Dark Water
for vocal sextet or choir SSATBB (1991)
duration: 9’
text by Ross Baglin
GRT • 012

CD available
The Green CD
The Song Company, Roland Peelman (cond.)
Tall Poppies

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
This set of three pieces was commissioned and premiered by The Song Company with assistance from the music Board of The Australia Council. It is dedicated to Roland Peelman, conductor of the premiere and first recording. The piece has also enjoyed performances in the UK (Arcadian Singers) and the US (Cantori New York).

available on resources page

"Upon The Dark Water by Stuart Greenbaum had much to commend it, as a piece and as a performance. The young Australian composer makes accomplished use of controlled crescendi and diminuendi on close, gently dissonant harmony and draws little agitated solos out from this texture. I look forward to Greenbaum's next piece."
John Carmody, Sun–Herald, July 1991

Upon The Dark Water by Stuart Greenbaum with subtle allusive texts by Ross Baglin (receiving a first performance) exploited a personal harmonic idiom. There were passages of simple but effective inventiveness such as some effectively handled sliding sustained tones."
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, July 1991

"Stuart Greenbaum's Upon The Dark Water contained original choral sonorities"
Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald, March 1993

"Equally convincing was Stuart Greenbaum's
Upon the Dark Water. This work was highly evocative in its use of bi–tonality to set up what Greenbaum describes as 'floating sonorities'.”
Johanna Selleck, The Herald Sun, October 1997

3 nature poems in the “Treasury Gardens” series

This public figure, with its girdled statues
Of Burns, and Judges, and military men
Surrendered now to pigeons, and reduced
To quartered squares for clowning gulls and lunchers,
Still recalls with steepled English shadows,
The pruning of a colony ; enough then,
For shabby poets, clumsy lovers
And thin-lipped Cromwells in Sun-shingled towers
To note, at evening, how the tea-light brews
And new shoots nudge the moist light falling, falling,
Below the leafless circuit of the moon.

The mother duck that chased at reeds
And fantasies of weightless things
That lurked in water, out of light,
Is menaced by the crevices
Of rocks that scour and foam ;
The water’s changing, and the growing ducks
She mothered in the teeth of Winter
Fledge in poison; No expression in the eye
Forgives their dying, no condolence comes
In leaves that break the clean white bones of sun
Upon the dark water.

A spark of green spits and chirrs in the toed claw ;
The dipped spear clacks the tessellated shell,
The luculent green fans twirled,
The nerves cut, the netted wings wave
Unbidden circles, the clash of strings
Bewilders instinct, and the golden thighs
That rattled Summer nights are cracked,
Snap !
The flakes of flame smack in the scarlet beak.

The dismantling of a frail jewel
Will not be accounted in the published report
Of beauty’s ravished accessories,
Beauty does not stir when hunger’s march
Pounds sullen on;