Balkan Connection (2004/5)

string orchestra

duration: 15 minutes

each movement may be performed on its own

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Excerpt

(the first movement played by the string orchestra of MLC School – ca. 4’30”)

Programme Notes

      i. Makedonsko Oro

ii. Nissyros

iii. Ciaciak

I have long been interested in popular music influences in my own music, and some people have made the observation that since popular music is the folk music of our time, I am in fact carrying on a long tradition of folk music influences in an art-music context. This work, Balkan Connection, takes as its starting point various influences from the Balkan region, specifically Macedonia and Greece.

The first movement, “Makedonsko Oro”, takes as its starting point a Macedonian tune of the same name, which is apparently very popular at weddings and similar functions in its original country. Many of the typical characteristics of Macedonian music, such as additive rhythms, modal harmony, accompaniment patterns and melodic harmonizations have been deliberately employed in this movement. However, there are also many interjections which are more free.

In contrast to the very vigorous opening movement, the second movement “Nissyros” takes a more subdued approach. The initial inspiration for this movement was that of an imagined old man, sitting on a verandah in Nissyros (Greece), singing a folk tune vaguely remembered from his childhood. Each repetition of the tune throughout the orchestra slowly builds to a large climax accompanied by strumming strings, before dying away once more.

The ciaciak is a traditional Macedonian dance, typically in 6/8, and very energetic in character. As the title suggests, the last movement of Balkan Connection takes the ciaciak as its starting point, though it in fact only appears very briefly in the middle of the movement. It is surrounded by other musical material characteristic of the Balkan region as a whole, including a section alluding to the Middle-Eastern occupation of these countries many years previously.

The first movement of Balkan Connection was premiered by the MLC School Chamber Orchestra in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, May 2003. The entire piece was premiered by the Steel City Strings in Wollongong and Bowral, NSW, in May 2004. It has since been performed by The Queensland Orchestra, cond. Brett Kelly.

notes by Matthew Hindson.


None as yet.

CD Recording Available?

      Not yet. A live recording of the piece is available through the

Australian Music Centre library


Other Information

      This piece may be ordered through

Faber Music

      . The parts may be hired for performance in Australia through

Hal Leonard Australia


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