One of Australia’s best known composers, Ross Edwards has created a distinctive sound world which seeks to reconnect music with elemental forces and restore its traditional association with ritual and dance. His music, universal in that it is concerned with age-old mysteries surrounding humanity, is at the same time deeply connected to its roots in Australia, whose cultural diversity it celebrates, and from whose natural environment it draws inspiration, especially birdsong and the mysterious patterns and drones of insects. As a composer living and working on the Pacific Rim, he is conscious of the exciting potential of this vast region.
His Dawn Mantras greeted the dawning of the new millennium from the sails of the Sydney Opera House in a worldwide telecast.
Ross Edwards’ compositions include five symphonies, concertos, choral, chamber and vocal music, children’s music, film scores, a chamber opera and music for dance. His Dawn Mantras greeted the dawning of the new millennium from the sails of the Sydney Opera House in a worldwide telecast. Works designed for the concert hall sometimes require special lighting, movement, costume and visual accompaniment – notable examples are his Fourth Symphony, Star Chant, premiered by the Adelaide Symphony and Richard Mills at the 2002 Adelaide Festival; the Oboe Concerto Bird Spirit Dreaming, which Diana Doherty premiered with the Sydney Symphony and Lorin Maazel, subsequently performing it with the New York Philharmonic and many other orchestras around the world; and The Heart of Night, for shakuhachi and orchestra, composed especially for shakuhachi Grand Master Riley Lee and the Melbourne Symphony.
Recently completed commissions include Sacred Kingfisher Psalms for The Song Company, Ars Nova Copenhagen and the Edinburgh Festival; a Piano Sonata for Bernadette Harvey commissioned by the Sydney Conservatorium; Full Moon Dances, a saxophone concerto for Amy Dickson; Five Senses, a song cycle to poems of Judith Wright; The Laughing Moon for the New Sydney Wind Quintet; Zodiac Dances, a major ballet score for Stanton Welch and the Houston Ballet; and his String Quartet No. 3, Summer Dances, for the Hungarian Kelemen Quartet, commissioned by Kim Williams for Musica Viva Australia. Harp Mantras, for 7 harps and didjeridu, opened the 2014 World Harp Congress in Sydney and Frog and Star Cycle, a double concerto commissioned for saxophonist Amy Dickson, percussionist Colin Currie and the Sydney Symphony, will have its premiere in the Sydney Opera House in 2016.
This light-hearted (though highly virtuosic) piece consists of two radiant dances framing an introspective, recitative-like interlude. The musical idiom is that of my Piano Concerto, composed in the same year, which conservative critics found so threatening in the 1980s. In such pieces as these it was my intention to reintroduce levity, joy and exuberance...