News - 21 Aug 2023

Introducing the Composer Anthony Ritchie for the Dvořák’s New World concert

'Symphony No.6' was begun during the first lockdown in New Zealand March-April 2020, and to some extent informed by the crisis enveloping the country and the world. However, the work is also inspired by personal experiences, beginning in 2019 and book-ended by the composer’s serious illness in 2021.

It expresses ideas around love, death, our relationship to the environment, and the afterlife. Although the four movements have sub-titles this is not a specifically programmatic symphony: the listener can use these titles to develop their own thoughts and ideas as the music unfolds.The subtitles are:
I – Crisis
II – Meditation
III – Spirits
IV – Grieving

The symphony is unified by a plaintive love theme on the saxophone that opens the work. This love theme re-appears in the other movements, but usually disguised in a different context. However, the saxophone does replay the melody on two other occasions. The symphony is also based around the key of E flat minor, although an actual key signature does not appear until the final minutes of the symphony. There is a specific black-note chord E flat-G flat-A flat-B flat returns during the work and symbolises death. The third unifying device is a recurring ‘glissando’ on the strings, where they slide up to their highest notes, suggesting the journey of spirits. Although the piece is reflective and often sad there are contrasting moods, particularly in the first movement which is full of energy and turmoil. Likewise, the third movement features bird-like motifs, and mysterious sounds on a variety of percussion instruments and harp. There is also a substantial flute solo in the second movement, which has a song-like character.

The symphony is dedicated to my wife Sandy.

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