Book of Departures
for fl, cl, perc, pno, vln, vc (2007)
duration: 10’
GRT • 129


score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
When Marshall McGuire contacted me about writing a piece for Sydney’s Sonic Art Ensemble, he noted that it would be the group’s final commission and the idea of a sort of ‘farewell symphony’ took hold. While mapping out the structure of the piece, I started thinking in terms of chapters (there are three of them, along with three bridges and an interlude – all in one movement). I also wanted to write music that would make an appropriate gesture towards an ensemble of musicians who have given so much to Australian contemporary classical music. So finally, the idea of a ‘book of departures’ distilled in my thinking. ‘Departure’ is an interesting word. It can denote sadness and nostalgia – but it can equally refer to the outset of exciting new journeys and in my mind this piece attempts to address both meanings.

“The final piece ended the night in the recital hall. The last piece was
Book of Departures by Stuart Greenbaum, an Australian composer. It was a very colorful piece that came together overall — especially the piano solo that caused a small break in the unity of the instruments, but every instrument came back finishing UA’s New Music Ensemble strongly”
Ashlee Fields, the Buchtelite, November 2015

“The final work on the CD was originally composed as a sextet for the Sydney-based Sonic Arts Ensemble, formerly the Seymour Group. It was to be the final commission before the ensemble disbanded, hence the name Book of Departures. It was arranged for piano trio a year later. Conceived as three ‘chapters’, the piece is composed in one movement. It features a delicate interplay between the three instruments, the music travelling between different moods – happy, triumphant, nostalgic – to finish on one of optimism.”
Gwen Bennett, The Music Trust, December 2015