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Mapoutahi Sands was commissioned by the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, with the assistance of Creative New Zealand (Arts Council of Aotearoa). Many thanks to Anthony Ritchie whose idea it was in the first place
Mapoutahi is situated on the Otago coast, just around the corner from Doctors Point. The pā site on the promontory was at one stage a strategic position for the local Māori, but now all that remains are the sea, the cliffs and the grass. This sense of lost memories, lost treasures, and the sound of the wind and sea-spray pervade the soundscape of this piece.
The embodying description of this piece would surely be challenge. Firstly, it was a challenge for me to write a full orchestral piece always having to bear in mind the ensemble's limitations. There's little point in writing a piece that is too easy or too hard, so I attempted to just stretch the performers' technique and musicality. Secondly, the challenge is to these youthful players and to the conductor to interpret this difficult score with flair. And lastly, the challenge is there for the audience. This music is by no means 'accessible', but it is my hope that the listener can put aside any prejudice and simply enjoy the sounds and textures the orchestra make.
Commissioned by Dunedin Youth Orchestra, with assistance from Creative New Zealand