Plays the Music of Michael Hugh Dixon
Each individual piece of music on this CD has a contemplative outlook. Even those with a faster tempo or the gradually increasing speed of each movement in Chemchok Heruka add to the focus of inner vision. The order of pieces in CD tend towards a deepening sense of meditation. Three pieces take inspiration from Tibetan Buddhist deistic icons and three from chapters of the Chinese classic Tao Te King. The seventh, a song freely arranged has a beauty in keeping with it's subject, the forest Bonny Portmore. The Taoist compositions have a concurrent life as songs for voice and piano. Publications by Wirripang have released two of these on it's CD Simply Songs performed by Wendy Dixon and David Miller. Wirripang have published the songs as Songs of Tao in simple and more difficult versions: www.australiancomposers.com.au Recording took place over a few days in December 2003 in the excellent acoustic of the Nickson Room at the University of Queensland during which time we encountered some heavy rain. The sound of a few drops adds a unique feature to a couple of tracks. The roof has now had repairs! Locana Fittingly the CD begins and ends with Locana. In concert, flute, violin and horn find a different spot in the performance space for the rhythmically free opening. For the recording we all moved to positions vastly different to our usual places and made two versions of this opening. Unable to decide which one to use we decided to use both, one adjoining the rest of Locana and the other here to set the mood for the CD. The unusual placement of the players gives a sense of an aural mandala. Locana's Consort Just as Locana has a life as a solo flute piece (though first written for solo horn), Locana's Consort started for solo flute. When publishing it seemed appropriate to add a companion work, hence the title and some melodic references. Publications by Wirripang: www.australiancomposers.com.au have published a number of Michael's works. This trio version (flute, violin and horn) extends the original and has a more varied approach. The horn becomes more drone-like throughout, the other two provide most of the melodic movement. Become Complete and In Good Stead These two short quartets began as simple songs, part of a group called Songs of Tao. Here the quartet extends Become Complete through 'instrumental' interludes exploring the music of the 'verses' at different speeds and qualities. Both pieces use one South Indian scale even though In Good Stead has a pentatonic flavour. The quartets have in turn spawned more difficult versions of the songs, recorded on Simply Songs: www.australiancomposers.com.u. Bonny Portmore This arrangement of a traditional song explores an ambiguous tonality using two keys simultaneously as well as staying faithful to the beauty of the melody played by the cello in 'Verse 1'. Each expansive moment and resting place in the melody allowed room for rhythmic embellishment. The cello holds a drone throughout 'Verse2" while the others play the melody in a key each. Chemchok Heruka The Herukas in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy fulfill the role of great energy which cuts through obstacles in relationship with five meditation Buddhas. For each relationship the horn player performs in a different part of the performance space. Each position delineates the compass points and helps to create an aural mandala. Movement 1 sets the scene with the duo of violoncello and horn presenting a mantra followed by various statements regarding the title deity. They do this using a symbolical sonographic language in which a harmonic or pair of harmonics represents a letter of the alphabet. The instruments cover a large range from the fundamental C to it's 31st harmonic, many of which do not often feature in composition though add significant 'flavour'. The instruments remain in the centre for Mov.2, a quiet yet strong meditation. The horn shifts position for each of Movs. 3-6 returning to the centre in the final movement. The 7th movement reveals the true dynamic nature of the Heruka then the entire work concludes as it began with a mantra. A variant of the mantra takes place in each movement. Humility Chapter sixty-seven of the Tao Te King draws out three treasures: restraint, compassion and humility. The composition has three treasures: the sound of the violin, the horn and the violoncello. Like the other two Taoist pieces this uses one South Indian scale, number 67 and like Become Complete the instruments sometimes play in two keys at once. Humility, first written in 2000 for tenor and specially tuned piano (long and short versions) has a number of other versions: tenor plus 2 horns; high voice, horn and piano and the one played here. Each has a flavour of it's own always in keeping with the sense of inner understanding from the text. Locana The introduction explores the musical mood as an aural mandala, each instrument freely playing it's melody line and each a variation. The second part of Locana plays out as a sacred 'song' (no words) in four verses beginning with the violoncello. The horn has verse 2, violin the next then all present their verse simultaneously bringing out a mood of inner rapture. LOCANA (pronounced Lochana) gave it's first performance in July 2002 at the opening of the Big Blue Shed, Cooroy as part of the Noosa Long Weekend Festival. Specializing in contemporary music, LOCANA has performed for the University of Queensland, Chamber Music Queensland, Ferry Road Chamber Players and will include the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University in August 2004. The four members: Janine Grantham - flute, Paula Newcomb - violin, Matthew Farrell - violoncello and Michael Hugh Dixon - horn all live and work in Brisbane. Paula teaches and performs as a freelance artist. Janine, Matthew and Michael all belong to the Queensland Orchestra. The group derives it's name from the music Locana in turn named after the Tibetan Buddhist icon of the feminine aspect of Mirror-like Wisdom.