Document Type

Creative Work

Publication Details

Mary P. Finsterer, In Praise of Darkness: Full Orchestra (World Premiere), 23 April 2009, Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlends. Download score here and audio file below. List of Finsterer's works available here; and concert music reviews here.



Research Background

This musical work was commissioned by Tura Music in West Australia and the Asko | Schönberg Ensemble, Amsterdam The Netherlands and recorded by Dutch Radio. Set in the structure of a ‘concertante’, it is inspired by the writings of Jorge Luis Borges, in particular his reflections on his own state of blindness; he discusses the condition as a way of channelling memory, and keeping the essence of that recurring thought intact. This work explores the notion of memory in a sonic environment, and how reflection and perception of the original event works with memory to create an ‘object’ with a life of it’s own.

Research Contribution

The composer was able to explore ways in which the orchestra can evoke a transparency in texture, allowing the idea of memory to be used as a fluid series of thoughts held together by slowly unfolding melodies that collide with sharp contrasts of colour and dynamic. It also investigates the relationship between soloist and orchestra through the particular roles given to the Celesta and Harp. Their continual presence echoes the idea of calling back fragments of life and time, creating a structural reference for the work. It was also an opportunity for the composer to consider the human phenomenon of memory, drawing upon influences outside music to inform the musical material in an integral way.

Research Signficance

This work was recognised as a significant contribution to the repertoire of Australian music in 2009 when it was awarded Australia’s most prestigious composition prize, The Paul Lowin Orchestral Award.