The Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows will give the world premiere of my latest piece Jabberwock at the Sorcerers and Wizards family concert at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, October 4. The program features Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice (arr. Farrington) and Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Yu). Forming part of the Spot On Children's Festival, guests are encouraged to dress as a wizard or your favourite magical character!
You can purchase tickets and find out more about the event here.
A little more about Jabberwock:
Much of my work has been inspired by the literature of Lewis Carroll (I just adore the wit, language and characters!), and so when I was approached to write a piece for the Fellows for a family concert, the Jabberwock immediately sprang to mind. Jabberwock takes inspiration from Carroll’s nonsense poem ‘Jabberwocky’ from the second Alice novel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). A fictitious, fearsome creature, the Jabberwock is equal parts scary and silly, dramatic and whimsical.
Knowing that the piece would appear alongside the Sorcerer’s Apprentice influenced some of the creative decisions I made, particularly the inclusion of chanting and spoken word, which I intended to be spell-like, or perhaps even cast by the apprentice himself. I had a lot of fun experimenting with Carroll’s text; I cut up, rearranged and added to the original text to create a type of mosaic effect, finding new rhymes and rhythms. The double bass plays the role of a narrator throughout, and the string section try out their rapping chops! The lowest instrument of each family, contrabassoon, trombone, and double bass, are prominent in the piece, and they could be seen as the collective ‘voice’ of the Jabberwock.
The piece begins with the shriek of bowed cymbal (which recurs at various stages throughout), followed by a spell-like chant to conjure up the Jabberwock and call him forth from his natural habitat, the ‘tulgey wood’. After this introduction, I see the piece as being split into three main sections. The first features the Jabberwock in mischief-mode, as he runs rampant, frightening other fantastical creatures, including ‘raths’ – green pigs (as Humpty Dumpty kindly tells Alice), ‘borogroves’ – shabby-looking birds with a mop-like appearance, and ‘toves’- a cross between a badger, a lizard and a corkscrew. The second section (you can listen out for the dramatic tempo change) sees the hunting and capture of the Jabberwock. The wind and brass shout out in fury, and the strings stomp their feet, before unravelling into several celebratory passages, including a hymn-like brass soli, and triumphant horn and violin solos, all rejoicing in the slaying of the Jabberwock.
The final section begins with another chant, recalling the beginning, yet wonders whether the Jabberwock was that monstrous after all – were his ‘claws that catch’ and ‘jaws that bite’ only a myth? Was the Jabberwock all bark and no…bite? Was there another more fearsome predator – the frumious Bandersnatch? Here I take some liberties with the original poem’s story, and the following bars see the Jabberwock have the last laugh and his final hurrah in a joyous (perhaps even ‘frabjous’) extended outro. In this way, the structure of Jabberwock is somewhat ‘choose your own adventure’, and this is reflected in the style of the piece, which celebrates stylistic juxtapositions and is my own amalgam of jazz, rock, metal, pop, and classical influences.