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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

Aurora (1999)
commissioned by The Colburn School of Performing Arts
Novello & Co Ltd
Sub Category
String Orchestra
Year Composed
10 Minutes

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Programme Note
Thea Musgrave Aurora (1999)

….yonder shines Aurora's harbinger;
At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there,
Troop home to churchyards.
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream. III ii line 379

This work was commissioned for the young students of the Colburn School of Performing Arts to play, and it seemed to me that Aurora - Dawn - or the coming of light, would be an apt title. It would represent the potential and the musical burgeoning of young talent.

The music thus starts mysteriously, even tentatively, with a short melodic theme played by solo viola and accompanied by low soft chords emphasizing the note D. These two elements, in a variety of guises, keys and continuations, build in a gradual crescendo, till after a brief moment of darkness where "ghosts troop home", dawn finally arrives in the shape of a luminous D major chord. The music becomes "full and joyous" and in a brief coda, where the music seems suspended, all clouds dissolve and the D major turns out to be a dominant and on the very last note resolves to a G.

Preview the score

  • 12 JUN 2018
    Naumberg Orchestral Concerts
    Naumburg Bandshell, Central Park, New York, US
    Ensemble LPR
    Tessa lark, violin; Ankush Bahl, conductor
  • 04 DEC 2015
    St.Stephen's Church, Newtown, Australia
    Bourbaki Ensemble
    David Angell, conductor
  • 16 APR 2013
    St Martin in the Fields Church, London
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
  • 30 OCT 2011
    Dartington Hall, Devon
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
  • 29 OCT 2011
    St Chads Church, Shrewsbury
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
  • 10 OCT 2010
    Tübingen, Germany
    Tübinger Kammerorchester
    Markus Kosel, conductor
  • 28 APR 2009
    Dartington Hall, Dartington, UK
  • 19 APR 2009
    Great Hall, Dartington, Devon
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
    Kenneth Sillito, conductor
  • 06 NOV 2008
    City Halls, Glasgow
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Rory Macdonald, conductor
  • 22 SEP 2008
    Penrith Methodist Church, Cumbria
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
    Kenneth Sillito, conductor

    Other Dates:
    23 September - St Mary's Church, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
    24 September - The Courtyard, Hereford, Herefordshire
  • 06 JUL 2008
    Beaminster, Dorset
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
    Kenneth Sillito, conductor
  • 21 OCT 2007
    Ancona, Italy
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields

    Other Dates:
    22 October - Treviso, Italy
    23 October - Trento, Italy
    24 October - Tremo, Italy
    25 October - Rome, Italy
  • 09 JUN 2007
    Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
    City of London Sinfonia
    Richard Hickox, conductor
  • 08 MAR 2007
    Aurora Country Premiere
    Munich, Germany
    Munich Chamber Orchestra
  • 31 JAN 2007
    St. Andrews, Holborn, London
    City of London Sinfonia
    Nicholas Ward, conductor
  • 18 FEB 2006
    Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
    Manchester Camerata
    Nicholas Kraemer, conductor
  • 18 APR 2004
    Aurora European Premiere
    Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields
  • 18 APR 2004
    Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
    Academy of St Martin in the Fields
    Kenneth Sillito, conductor
  • 07 FEB 2004
    St Andrew's Church, Plymouth, UK
    Ten Tors Orchestra
    Simon Ible, conductor
  • 01 JUN 2003
    Ten Tors Orchestra
  • 21 NOV 2000
    Madison Symphony Orchestra
  • 18 NOV 2000
    Aurora Country Premiere
    Shanghai, China
    BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
    Alexander Titov, conductor

    Other Dates:
    21 November - Beijing, China
  • 20 MAY 2000
    Aurora World Premiere
    Colburn School of Performing Arts, Los Angeles, USA
    Colburn School of Performing Arts

...there is more to the short string piece than mere atmosphere. The growth of expressionistic intensity in the performance suggested Aurora is Musgrave's version of a highly condensed Transfigured Night.
Michael Tumelty, The Herald,07/11/2008
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