Ictalurus Punctatis (2008)

for amplified cello and orchestra (picc.1.2(II=ca).2.1.cbsn – 4231 – timp – perc(1) – harp – strings)

duration: 7 minutes

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Programme Notes

This work was commissioned by the Adelaide Cello Festival, premiered by Li Wei Qin (cello) and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, cond. Arvo Volmer, 11 April 2008.

This movement for amplified cello and orchestra forms the first part of an intended larger-scale concerto based around the lifecycle of a rock star. The first movement, “Ictalurus Punctatis”, refers to the early, ‘out-there’ stage of the musician’s career, with ostentatious virtuosity and a seemingly-limitless reserve of theatricality, grand gestures and power.

The title, “Ictalurus Punctatis”, has two intended meanings in this context. First, being a Latin term it could quite plausibly be the name for a 1970s heavy metal or glam rock band. Second, the term itself is the Latin name for the Channel Catfish, an animal that lives in dark, fetid places waiting for detritus to fall their way. It is an animal dependent upon the actions of others for its survival. This seemed a good metaphor to describe the myriad of hangers-on surrounding the rockstar in his/her early, glory years – the insatiable media, managers and promoters, drug-dealers. Hence the orchestra provides something of an ominous backdrop behind the glittering extraversion and frenetic ‘lifestyle’ of the solo cello part.

notes by Matthew Hindson


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Other Information

This movement will form the first part of a larger intended amplfied cello concerto, “Rockstar”.

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