Australian composer James Ledger

Processions
2011
18 mins
string quartet

Premiere: 30 May 2011
Perth Concert Hall
Australian String Quartet

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When the general manager of the Australian String Quartet, Alison Beare and I were in discussions for this commission, she floated the idea of migration as a theme for the work. I immediately had an image in my mind of people trudging through snow – which I think may have come from the film, Dr Zhivago – although I’m not sure why that image came to me as I hadn’t seen the film for over twenty years. After much thought on the emotions around displacement and migration, the ideas for Processions were born.

The piece is in three continuous sections, or processions, that run continuously after a short introduction. The first procession is energetic and jubilant music that reflects the optimistic instances of migration, such as the case of my maternal grandparents. They emigrated from England after the second world war when Australia attracted them with the chance of a new and better life.

The second procession reflects the darker side of human displacement. Here, there is uncertainty and perhaps numbness that comes from separation or leaving home. There is a sense of loss and isolation against a trudging motion that is captured in this procession.

The whole work was written against the backdrop of two devastating earthquakes that struck the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, and then Japan. The third movement is a funeral procession, in which the instruments glissando slowly downward, representing a sigh or expression of grief.




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