Kammerklang: Alpha

by Kammerklang

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    Peter McNamara's percussion concerto The Styx, written for solo percussionist and chamber orchestra. Originally premiered by Claire Edwardes and Kammerklang in 2009. [Digital download score]

    Cover Art by Luke Moseley.

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Orphic Hymn #3: Nyx (translated by Karl Hand) To the God-bearer, Mother of Men, I shall hymn this even-song. To Night! The primal origin, (We name Thee, Love!) Hail, happy Goddess, Black with starry gleam, Joy in Thy quietude, And our peaceful, heady dreams. Midnight merrymaker’s friend, In labour for our delusions, And work release from every fraught fury - Thy gentle rest! Entrancing, beloved absolute, Sparkling rider in the dark. You are not whole where you dwell You are shady, heaven’s hell. And circle, like a bird of prey those playful spirits you pursue. And light is damned by you, And into damnation again you flee To hell’s gate, for not even you are immune to the governance of necessity And so I summon blessed Night, For Earth is longing for your richness. Hail, full of grace, Listen to they servant’s supplication And with thy favour, dismiss the sparkling terrors of this night.
Orphic Hymn #9: To Selene (translated by Karl Hand) Hear us, Holy Queen, who sends the light through Selene! Bull-horned moon! Running in the night, and wandering through the sky. You are of the night: Fire-brand, maiden, lovely star. You develop and then you depart. You are woman and you are man. Luminous. Fond of horses. Mother of time, and the bringer of harvest. Amber and sullen. Glittering in the night. Keeping watch over all, and teeming with pretty stars. Rejoice in your solitude, in the heritage of this peaceful moment. O exalted bringer of joy. Bringer of maturity. The glory of Night. Robed star Queen. Runner of labyrinthine paths. All wise maiden. Come blessed, gentle, lovely-star. Shine in your three ways. Exalted One, and Saviour of new initiates, Maiden.
(Text by Marcus Whale) There, ruined red, strung taut in a skein, the walls leak words, some you have said above me, over the length of me. If, waiting, your lily heart succumbs, dissolve from me. I know no other who subjugates me. How you mythologise me. Your wealth of strangeness, that dirge. You say you map skies in breath, the way tiny weight gathers in torrents I have loved your hands above, codeine high, channeling through our bulk, fused. Tussled or thrown. Hurled. Now new. How your skin rustles in a scene – like a newborn. Your tongue lashing short of coherence. A waking prayer, lipped and gleaming off your cheek. How you mythologise. I raked you in position, a pregnant child forced into bathwater. I might crouch myself in your yowl, where icing won’t frost past winter. Beside, what sanctity stirs hulk like, imposed. I once slurred your images together to the handprint, I left you loaded with my marrow, slewn. Wild. Newborn.
Text by Ella Salome On the first day there was solitude, The second day was peace And there beneath the open sky I found my soul’s release. On the first day there was loneliness, The second day was silence and lost there in the barren land I ended it with violence. I found myself among the stars I let the night consume me Since that day I’ve travelled far The shadows still consume me. The essence of my very being spread across the earth, Flying, I fell upwards yet, Somehow I still sank below, Unable to tell sand from snow. Not equal to anything I’d ever Screamed/Dreamed About in so many sleepless nights Of wandering, Squandering my life away. Today I found That the sound was echoing Through my unguarded mind, Always from behind, No matter where I turned. It burned through My ears were filled with something glorious, A chorus Unequalled by any before, Like a door from the heavens had opened in wel’come in’ It seemed to beckon, Like the gaping maw of a beast, And as I fell forward all thinking ceased. On the first day there was solitude, The second day was silence And there beneath the open sky I ended it with violence. On the first day there was loneliness, The second day was peace and lost there in the barren land I found my soul’s release.
Zmey Lipa - Dragon of the Linden Tree I. In The Cave Text by Jacqueline Brocker ~Many centuries ago...~ Ah! You have returned, strange man, in your armour, and with your sword. Yet you do not attack me. I wonder why...you sit and watch me, and you are attentive in ways I have never seen. All creatures respect me, fear me, or worship me; the humans, the rabbits, the sparrows, the wolves, the eagles, the mice, the foxes...but you are cautious, not fearful. You intrigue me, and so you can stay. Crouching in my cave, covered by the dark, the shafts of dusty light only leave the dank rocks and the black water more frightening to your sight. Or at least, they should...for here I have often lain, lurking and waiting for prey to stumble through the jagged mouth of my cave. You cannot see into this dusky light, only hear, and that you cannot see you fear, as you cannot comprehend what I am. This is how it should be... but it is not quite for you, is it, strange man? Never mind. I am not afraid of the darkness, and you are not either. We can sit together. And you can listen. See those roots above us? They are of the tree that gives me life, that leaves the air around us with its scent. That is the linden tree that sits on the hill above this cave. This cave is my dominion, but the tree above is my life. The linden’s roots stretch into my world, and lend the earth and rocks and air that surrounds me its fragrance. When I take flight, on my return I look down from the sky and see the hill, where the tree that grows above me stands. Tall and abundant with leaves. It is not as grand or as mighty as an oak, but it is my tree. My tree...ha! I should not claim ownership to it. The tree is my life, my own god, and is a truer, more steadfast god than...well...you understand. You should love the tree as I do. I will tolerate many transgressions, but should any harm come to that tree, I will not be forgiving. What? You say I am unforgiving in my ways towards the people of this land? Well...perhaps. But have you heard my story? I may not be all you imagine me to be. To you, I am a symbol of many things, and yet is that my essence? Am I but an evil being, made to be defeated? The other that you fear, the embodiment of all of your darkest thoughts and nightmares. Or am I a great protector, whose presence wards off far greater evils than myself? Invading armies, wild beasts who fear not humans but run from me. Is it perhaps not as simple as darkness and light, much like this cave with its murkier air? You have named me as you saw me. I have had many human names. Yes, I am Zmey Lipa, the Dragon of the Linden Tree...yet that is not who I am. Oh, you will not understand my name. Creatures of the earth, animals of the land, they do not name each other the way you humans do. In that sense I have no name, but I do have an identity. I am known by scent, by sight, by my footfall and the beating of my wings. All of these distinct markers make up me. My name is an image, a sense, a feeling. And ultimately, my name is meaningless without all of this. You know that. The people have named me to try and confine me to that name, but this failed them. And so instead, out of their fear...they revered and worshipped me. Think on this. I am not a god, except in the minds of the people. The people left me offerings of cattle, sheep, gold, and finally their children. So, I embraced the role that was granted unto me. And in return, they had my protection, and my tacit promise I would not harm them. And thus I became their god. There are many days that I emerge from this place, my cave, allow the heat of the sun onto my body, and my scales grow warm in the light as I take to the air and sky. I unfurl my wings – to stretch them out feels exhilarating. My form casts shadows across the fields and the forests as I rise higher in the air. Then from those heights, I fly. And I look down over the lands, and the creatures of those lands. The animals know me well, and respond with respect and trepidation. Whilst the people... especially the people...I see the awe in their eyes, and I sense my own body’s power. My wings, their leathery expanse frightens them most as it may seem like I am about to engulf them whole, swallow them up, snatch them, or their precious cattle, in my teeth and claws. And when I do...the flesh catches in my claws, the blood is warm and lush as it gushes down my throat. The tearing, the snapping, and the screaming, all surrounds me as I feast on what they have made mine. They have made me theirs, and so, what is theirs is mine. For they no longer bring these me their offerings. Where once there was abundance there is now emptiness. Do you think I was happy to see nothing but dirt and rocks outside my cave where food and treasure were once given? Do you? And had you been in my place, would you have been so forgiving?
Zmey Lipa - Dragon of the Linden Tree II. On The Hill Text by Jacqueline Brocker ~In our time...~ A young man and a dragon stand on a hill, in the shade of an ancient linden tree. An autumn breeze blows gently as they look out across the fields, valleys, and trees below them. Then the dragon, Zmey Lipa, says “It’s warm out here, in the sun, even as we stand under the branches of the tree. Lands stretch out before us. And above, the sky looms large, and a brilliant blue in the autumn. I suppose, for a human, you’re about as close to touching sky as you’ll ever be.” There is a pause, and the young man, Peter, smirks. “Don’t you think that phrase is kind of... dumb? You know, ‘touch the sky.’ The sky’s not solid, is it? I mean, you’d know that better than I do, right?” Zmey Lipa looks irritated, and responds. “Here I am, trying to be poetic, and you, as they say in English, take the wind out of my sails.” “Out of your wings, you mean?” Peter says, grinning even more broadly now. Zmey Lipa snarls a little, though it doesn’t startle Peter, for there is not much force behind it. “You’re not as funny as you think you are, boy.” Peter sighs. “I’m hardly a boy...though compared to you, I guess I am just a baby. Besides...” There is a pause, before he continues, his voice much quieter. “You spend a lot of time laughing at me. I amuse you, because I’m not as old or knowledgeable or wise as you. So I say a lot of stupid things.” Zmey Lipa thinks on this for a while. Finally, he speaks again. “You do amuse me, it is true. Please don’t be too hurt by that, I mean no disrespect. It is...fondness, actually. You are curious about me, about my kind, more so than most other humans. It is...flattering. And do not think I am wise just because I am old.” “You still blame yourself for...what happened, beneath our feet, in the cave below?” Peter asks gently. Zmey Lipa doesn’t respond to this directly. Instead, he says, “This tree is no doubt wiser than I am. It is certainly as old as I, perhaps older. Look how its leaves rustle in the breeze. See how the seed pods fall, twirling to the ground--” “You’re being poetical again,” Peter interrupts, though he means it kindly. “Don’t make me put my iPod on to drown you out.” Zmey Lipa looks at Peter askance for a moment, and then becomes more contemplative. “The people would have been wiser to worship this tree. Yes, boy, I do blame myself for what happened, in the days when I was a god, and the time I ceased to be.” Then he smiles, ruefully, before adding, “You would not think it now looking on me.” “But life is very different now, for you.” “I was like an arrogant, spoilt teenager. Truly, Peter, that is what I was. I was just like the evil dragons in the old tales,” Zmey Lipa says, with a rawness that Peter is startled by. After a long moment, Peter finally says, “But not all dragons are. They never have been. Some are protectors, some are equal defenders of the fields. You guarded the crops as often as destroy them.” “Hmm. And paid the price for that.” Peter nods. “Yes, yes that’s true. But...you learned, didn’t you? And I know it is not as simple as the stories make it – at least, since meeting you, I really know that. And I know it by...well, feeling it. It’s not just knowledge anymore. It’s... instinctive.” Zmey Lipa looks about to speak, but he cannot seem to find the words. Instead, he looks at Peter with an expression of gratitude. Then Peter grins again. “And besides, some dragons have always been friends of foolish boys like me.” Zmey Lipa shakes his head, but he is smiling. “You’re a strange boy, Peter.” “And you are an unusual dragon, Zmey Lipa.”
Soul Food by Vanessa Yeoman Empty shells crumble into dust Young and full of beans Juicy pods on the vine Not yet ripe They swing in the breeze Force fed with sunlight Energy to grow up wholesome Well adjusted But their roots are buried in the darkness Buried in the blood and bone The seasons pass The vine sags with the weight of them Jostling for room in the fading winter light They look at the vine Its delicate tendrils Its soft velvet hairs Such fragility Such weakness And they wonder How it holds them there The wild wind blows They hear a creaking There something lies A solid trellis hidden in the leaves To which the weak vine clings They want to break away But that is to be broken Back and forth they swing As freedom blows by Leaving nothing but a chill And they wonder Whose plot is this? With heavy hearts Ripe for the reaping They wait And they wonder Who is their soul food for? Empty shells
Poem by Patrick Davies O’Sullivan Rutted in the daily grind. A comfortable schedule for some, a cage though to my mind. Two weeks of annual leave and weekend release is small sympathy to slave on the 7.30 bus and the 8 o’clock train — sardine tin commuter, then locked for the day in front of a computer. Harsh beat the whips of fluorescent bulb glow upon eyes sorely dried by the steady blow of an air conditioner that labours all day. For 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, this happens; and more, is expected of all in a city or town in an urban society. Is this the lure of sophistication? If a body doesn’t follow suit and subscribe they can’t survive, and are swept under the rug, killed — executed, in this overcrowded gaol to make room for a more productive prisoner. Yet people still crave the outside, so the soma of Hollywood kicks in, shows blockbuster movies to thrill and excite, so the inmates sleep satisfied of their bodily lusts at night. And this makes the mass mindless and dream mediocre dreams, able to be fulfilled in the penitentiary, other spirits still flap feebly for a taste of real living but are impotent in this cage, like an eagle with clipped wings, unable to escape until old age and habit accept the bars. Once-pure hearts are seduced and corrupted just to make a quick buck. Capitalist punishment; selfishness indoctrinated from the first, to mould young minds that the whole point in life is to live for a profit. The meaning to life, now the question is answered, keep up with the trends and own the best new gadgets; rampant consumerism gives a wanderer direction, while disposable cash and food go make a home just a house because it’s just another fashion. These are the manacles, the manacles we put on ourselves; lucky to be safe in the asylum, from disease and hunger and struggle and things that just want to eat you. We lock ourselves up because the real world is hell.


A compilation of music written for Kammerklang in 2009 and 2010, ALPHA features soloists Claire Edwardes (Ensemble Offspring), Jenny Duck-Chong (Halcyon), Alison Morgan (Halcyon), Emma Moore, Morgan Pearse and the Kammerklang Chamber Orchestra. This album spans the full gamut of Kammerklang works, from intimate solo and chamber music to bold and inventive works for voices and full chamber orchestra, all written by emerging Australian composers. Kammerklang is Sounds Made Real.


released January 29, 2013


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Kammerklang Sydney, Australia

Kammerklang (German for “Chamber sound”) is an Australian arts company specialising in the collaboration of music and other artforms, focusing on the fusion of sound and the “chamber” or space it’s performed in. The aim of Kammerklang is to present and promote new artistic creation that is inquisitive, detailed and accessible while still fostering exploration and communication between the arts. ... more

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