A hundred years ago, premieres of new commissions for Diaghelev’s Ballet Russes in Paris were changing the face of the musical world. In dwelling on that period, I am reminded of a story told to me by a librarian in Canberra. This story is of three Russian ballerinas from the Ballet Russes company that toured around regional Australia on a number of occasions through the 1930s. These ballerinas fell in love with Australian farmers, stayed and married them. This piece has at its heart Tchaikovsky’s famous waltz from ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ – music which is counterpointed by some ungainly yet more active music. It plays with the idea of these ballerinas waking to find themselves with particularly Australian princes who, patently, were charming enough to make them stay.
When this piece was commissioned by the Tamworth Regional Conservatorium Orchestra, I was thrilled to learn it would be conducted not only by Ann Hoy, their wonderful director, but also by the man who is responsible for me being a musician – Richard Gill. When I was the age of many of this evening’s performers, Richard conducted me in a youth orchestra, and later, it was in his classes that I first conceived of being a composer. So this work stands at the completion of a circle of education and music making that stretches back 20 years, and I thank Richard for starting to draw that circle and awakening a musical life in me.