Concert Notes: Of People + Song

MCO’s Of People + Song can be heard on Thursday 23 November 7:30pm and Sunday 26 November 2:30pm at Melbourne Recital Centre and on-tour at Shepparton, Horsham, Pakenham and Traralgon.



Manuel da Falla (1876–1946)
Siete canciones populares españolas (Seven Spanish Folk Songs) (arr string orchestra Matt Laing)
I. El paño moruno (The Moorish Cloth)
II. Seguidilla murciana
III. Asturiana
IV. Jota
V. Nana
VI. Canción
VII. Polo


The composer Manuel de Falla (1876–1946) was one of the prominent figures in Spanish music in the first half of the twentieth century. He spent considerable time in France and the influence of French music is evident in his work.

The Seven Spanish Folk Songs (Siete canciones populares españolas) for soprano and piano was written over 1914 following the composers return from Paris to Madrid and first performed in January 1915. The work was received with great acclaim and went onto be one of Falla’s most performed and arranged works.

Ryan Dorin, writing for the LA Philharmonic said, using “a combination of authentic and ‘retouched’ folk melodies, Falla succeeded in elevating what were simple, popular tunes to a higher artistic level by crafting truly integrated and original piano accompaniments, bringing to life the infectious melodies and rhythms inherent in the folk songs.”

El paño moruno is a song from Murcia, south-eastern Spain. Seguidilla murciana is a dance-song in a quick triple time. Asturiana, is a sad lament from the Asturias, in northern Spain. The Jota is a popular rhythmic dance, found through Spain and possibly originating in Aragon. Nana is a short Andalusian lullaby, while Canción is a lilting song. The set concludes with Polo, also from Andalusia, which uses guitar-like strumming to convey a sense of despair.

Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979)
Passacaglia (arr viola & string orchestra)#

# MCO gratefully acknowledges The Rebecca Clarke Society Inc ( and Chris A. Trotman for permission to perform this work.

Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979) was an English born composer and violist. She initially studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music and composition at the Royal College of Music with Charles Villiers Stanford. In 1912, she was one of the first female musicians to be engaged in a fully professional orchestra – Henry Wood’s Queen’s Hall Orchestra. In 1916 she travelled to the USA and eventually settled there. She is most known for her Piano Trio and Viola Sonata and these are among the 21 chamber works, 11 choral works and 52 songs that make up her compositional output.

A passacaglia is a form that developed in the early seventeenth century and is still in use today. It is generally serious in character and is often a set of variations built on a ground (or repeated) bass pattern. The Passacaglia on an Old English Tune for viola (or cello) and piano was written from 1940–1941 and premiered by Clarke; the theme is attributed to Thomas Tallis.

Edvard Grieg (1843–1907)
Holberg Suite Op 40
I. Praeludium. Allegro vivace
II. Sarabande. Andante espressivo
III. Gavotte. Allegretto
IV. Air. Andante religioso
V. Rigaudon. Allegro con brio


Edvard Grieg (1843–1907), a Norwegian composer, pianist and conductor, was commissioned to write a work to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Danish-Norwegian philosopher and playwright Ludvig Holberg (1684–1754). The composition, a set of piano pieces in the form of a Baroque keyboard suite, was well received in December 1884 and a few months later Grieg transcribed it for string orchestra.
Grieg’s tribute, in many ways in the character of J. S. Bach or Handel, is a suite of dances Fra Holbergs tid (from Holberg’s time). After the effervescent prelude, the dances that follow capture the character of different dances from the 18th century.

Notes: David Forrest

Lior (b 1975) and Ade Vincent (b 1982)
To Be Human‡
I. The Promise: searching
II. Descent: trepidation
III. Cages: unworthiness
IV. Out of the Circle: possibility, escapism
V. Broken Arrows: frustration
VI. The Bends: fear
VII. Carry Us Above: joy


‡ MCO Premiere Commission supported by Robert Salzer Foundation

Lior (b 1975) and Ade Vincent (b 1982) write: Why does art hold a reverence for humans? And what happens if we outsource its creation? When experiencing art, there has always been an assumption that human experience was at the core of the creation. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence-created art, we are now asking ourselves whether experiencing an AI artwork is as satisfying or interesting to us as experiencing a human-produced artwork.

In this world premiere, Ade Vincent and Lior examine that which is missing from AI-generated art: the hidden journey of the artist’s creative process. Through tracking their experience of creating a new work in real time, To Be Human holds a mirror up to the artists’ own experience as it was composed, providing a diary in musical form as the creative process unfolded.

To Be Human is a song cycle in seven parts that examines the experience and emotions of artists throughout the creation of a work of art:

1. The Promise
2. Descent
3. Cages
4. Out of the Circle
5. Broken Arrows
6. The Bends
7. Carry Us Above

Lyrics for To Be Human

I. The Promise

The promise
Lays beyond my sight
Eternal ocean calling me in
Unlock the door
Let the search begin
And invite the promise in

II. Descent

Slowly I descend
Through murky waters
Where no one understands
And darkness feels too close for comfort

I’m never quite prepared
To face fragments of myself
I dive with trepidation
Into whirlpools of my reflection

III. Cages

A tumble and twist
Into the abyss
Down where the light dissipates
Pining for solid ground
Wishing I never took this leap of faith

Down in the depths
I try to lose myself
And my spirit is up for the taking
If I could break out of the bars of my past
And flee from this cage of my making

Heavy shadows
Pushing down on me
Leading me to cages
How do I set myself free

IV. Out of the Circle

Dawn splashes out in red
The offing stretches out its hands
What a thrill
To never understand it

I have been given a breath
To carry me somewhere else
Out of the circle
Where life is more beautiful

High above
I am a sparrow now
Circling the grey below
The air sweeter than before
I could soar

V. Broken Arrows

As quickly as I rose up high into the flow
Time frozen
So it was I fell back down
Clock ticks
Slowly treading water

Spluttering and splashing
Through the tedium
Another day
Sharpening the edges
While all belief slips away

I keep firing broken arrows
How will I ever get through your defenses
If I keep firing broken arrows
I keep misfiring

VII. Carry Us Above

What makes up this moment
What do we bring to it
If we share no history
Then where do we begin

In a world that spins so fast
I need something to hold on to
And break my fall
Or even better still
Someone who will carry us above it all

There is only change
I know
Its not something to fight
But I just long to be human
While currents try to pull me out

In a world that spins so fast
I need something to hold on to
And break my fall
Or even better still
Someone who will carry us above it all

The joy
The pain
The dream
The lust
To all but lose yourself in trust
To rise where we could fall

The sweat
The fear
Eternal doubt
Emotions that have built us up
And spilt us out to meet as one tonight

In a world that spins so fast
I need something to hold on to
And break my fall
Or even better still
Someone who will carry us above it all
For I just long to be human