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Home : mUSiciansKey Commissions : 2011 Lines in the Sand

Lines in the Sand

Composer: Dan Walker
Commissioned by:
 Leichhardt Espresso Chorus
Sponsor: 
Premiere: The 2011 Sonnets and Sax concert on 25-Jun-2011 
Movements: 3

Lines in the Sand is a three movement work, written by Dan Walker (pictured) specifically for the 2011 Sonnets & Sax concert for mixed choir, piano and saxophone quartet.

The texts, by Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran, draw on a gamut of emotions: from love and loss, loneliness and isolation, to joy and sorrow. The plaintive writing and earnest nature of these particular works of Gibran lend themselves well to a choral setting, in which Walker instils an essence of their middle-eatern origins and their base connection to the human condition.

The movements are tentatively named after three of the seasons, as they in some way reflect the colours and changes of the year's cycle.

The first movement, Spring's Who would sell me one beautiful thought, tells of the rapture of love and its all-consuming power to cherish every moment.

Who would sell me one beautiful thought
for a hundred pounds of gold?
Who would exchange one moment of love
for a handful of gems?
Who would give me one eye that can see beauty
in exchange for all my treasures?

All these things shall love do unto you
That you may know the secrets of your heart
And in that knowledge become a fragment of life's heart.
Khalil Gibran

The second, movement And when I held my joy, reflects the turning of Autumn, the flourish of colour at a newfound happiness and the sense of loss as it withers away until it remains nothing but a memory.

The final movement, The great longing of Summer, speaks of the solidarity and bond shared between family; a sibling love that is stronger than the roots of the mountain and felt more profoundly than the depths of the sea. Yet, despite this, there is a loneliness expressed by the poet. Perhaps it is because this strange and inexplicable love cannot be shared and remains unspoken, complex and mystical.

The instrumental ensemble features four members of the saxophone family: the smallest, the soprano saxophone; the alto; tenor; and finally the very large baritone sax. Each has a distinctive sound and range of idiomatic nuances that adds to the various movements of the work.

The melodic lines range from tightly entwined flourishes of polyphony to broad brushstrokes of open chords, I suppose in a way embodying the title of the work. In reading these texts we can perhaps imagine the poet composing half-formed verses in the spidery and beautiful arabic script, only to wipe the slate clean of sand to begin musing once more.

LEC pictured with composer and conductor Dan Walker, accompanist Luke Byrne and saxophone quartet, Continuum Sax, at the premiere of Lines in the Sand on 25 June 2011

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