Category Archives: Orchestral Works

An Infernal Machine (2006)

for orchestra (Picc.2222 4231 Timp 4Perc Strings)

duration: 5 minutes

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Excerpt

    Not yet available.

Programme Notes

An Infernal Machine, as the title may imply, takes as its starting a hellish vision of the future where machines and artificial life forms have overtaken their human creators – rather as in the Terminator series of films.

This piece was commissioned by The Orchestras of Australia Network for first performance by the Tamworth Youth Orchestra with the financial assistance of the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

(prog.note by Matthew Hindson)

Other Information

This work was premiered as part of the The Orchestras of Australia Network 2006 Conference in Melbourne, by the Tamworth Youth Orchestra, cond. Anne Hoy.

Pi (1999)

for SATB choir and orchestra

also available in a version for SATB, piano and 3 percussion

also available in a version for SATB and piano

duration: 10 minutes

Audio Excerpt

Programme Notes

Pi was written as a commission from the Australian Society of Music Educators for their conference held in July 1999. It is a work that explores There is a history of using numbers to write music that dates as least as far back to Pythagoras. J. S. Bach encoded many mathematical structures within his compositions, and the ground-breaking work of Olivier Messiaen in “Modes de valeurs et intensites” in which he applied numerical concepts to every part of a piece of music (e.g. the pitches, the rhythms, the different dynamics, how each note was to be played (short, long etc.)) had a profound effect on the way musical composition was developed over the last fifty years.

Pi, however, to a large extent focuses on two poets’ responses to the number pi, rather than focussing on the properties of the number itself. Peter Goldsworthy’s poem deals with the fact that the number pi cannot be precisely defined. Mathematicians have defined the number to at least 1,000,000 decimal places (and there are books such as “The Joy of Pi” in which you can see all of these numbers!) and yet we still can’t exactly say what the number is. To Goldsworthy, this undefinability leads to the number being something mystical, “finer than us, more durable than matter”. It is a tender poem, full of reverence for the number. The musical setting of this poem follows a similar path. Sarah Hindson’s poem of the same name uses Pi as an analogy to relate to more “human” issues. Just as we search “for answers beyond human capacity”, i.e., we will never know the precise numerical definition of pi, so we quest for an answer to our own problems in daily interpersonal life. It is a vibrant, yet concise poem that receives a rhythmic, up-tempo treatment in this piece.

notes by Matthew Hindson.

CD Recording Available?

      Not yet. However, a live recording of the piece is available through the

Australian Music Centre library




      , the ratio of a circumference of a circle to its diameter, was the inspiration for two poems which Matthew Hindson has set to music… Peter Goldsworthy’s

In the Sky There is a Heaven

      [sic] is full of reverence for this number, which, the poet writes, is “finer than us, more durable than matter”. Here, wowing tam-tams, a loud flourish from the brass, and drum rolls greeted the 150-strong WA Symphony Youth Choir. Meticulously prepared by Prue Ashurst, this ensemble passed the acid test – almost every word was audible in a serenely pastoral setting that makes a graceful obeisance to the English choral tradition in general and the music of Vaughan Williams in particular. In the more robustly empathic setting of Sarah Hindson’s

Logic Without Definition

      [sic], diction was less clear against an often overly-strident backing which, however, quietened down to a much calmer close.” –

Neville Cohn, The West Australian, 26 June 2000.

Other Information

In Memoriam (Amplified Cello Concerto) 2000

for amplified cello with effects, and orchestra (picc.1.2(II=ca).1.bcl.1.cbsn – 4231 – timp – perc(5): 5 BD – harp – pno(=cel) – strings)

duration: 30 minutes

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Excerpts

Listen to the entire recording on ABC Classic FM’s Classic AMP
Excerpt from cello cadenza, first movement

Excerpt from Lament, first movement

Excerpt from opening section of second movement, “Celebration”

Programme Notes

1. Lament
2. Celebration

This work was written as part of my composer attachment to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

The fifth and final work I was required to compose for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Composer Attachment was a
concerto with the stipulation that the work should lie outside the composer’s
usual idiom.

The piece I wrote was a concerto for amplified cello and orchestra entitled In Memoriam. It comprises two movements, “Lament” and “Celebration”. The choice of writing a work for cello came from the soloist, Nathan Waks, principal cellist with the SSO. As I recall, Waks expressed his enthusiasm for a work that was “amplified with lots of wacky effects pedals”.

When writing this work, I considered the immensely expressive qualities of the cello. It was therefore important to choose a subject that was of deep emotional significance for me. In Memoriam is dedicated to two of my cousins, Hargret Davis and Robert Hopkins, both of whom died suddenly when they were about my age. In the piece, I aimed to express all the emotions I experienced as a result of their deaths. These include anger, shock, disbelief, desolation and acceptance. In order to provide contrast and relief, the second movement
embraced the idea of celebration, and of remembering the joyful times I had shared with my cousins.

The first movement, “Lament”, is constructed into a number of defined sections. The opening of the work has an angry, almost raging feeling, as typified by the opening gesture of the soloist. After a brief cello cadenza, references are made to aboriginal musical tropes, meant as a reference to the aboriginal heritage of my cousin Robert. After a mournful cor anglais solo, an extended lyrical sub-movement follows, capturing a funeral, sombre mood.

The second movement is entitled “Celebration”, and was written as a tribute to life itself – its highs, lows, and good times. In contrast to the first movement, “Celebration” is not especially pictorial or programmatic in content, but rather, uses aspects of popular music forms. It is a joyous, extroverted movement.

The approximate duration of In Memoriam is 30 minutes.

notes by Matthew Hindson


The world premiere of Matthew Hindson’s Concerto for Amplified Cello and Orchestra: In Memoriam… cast in two movements, Lament and Celebration, was an imaginative and vividly energetic work and one of the best large-scale scores of Hindson’s that I have heard to date… Hindson’s music at the moment seems to be testing extremes of expression and, dare one say it, of taste – a hard thing to do since it is so easy to overdo.

      Sleeveless and tattooed, cellist Nathan Waks was in his element in this piece, relishing the play-anything-frantically textures and grasping the energy and conception with a virtuoso’s sense of theatre. One couldn’t imagine a better advocate. I was encouraged by Hindson’s compositional development in this piece.” –

Peter McCallum, The Sydney Morning Herald – Timeout, 9 April, 2001.

      By far the longest work on the agenda was the world premiere of

In Memoriam

      – a consistently interesting, intermittently impressive, and occasionally astonishing piece that bespoke a depth and maturity in the work of this young composer that I had not experienced before…

In Memoriam was overflowing with ideas and well equipped with surprises. Much of it was very loud – too loud for many an ageing ear such as those which proliferate in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s flagship adult series – but there was no doubt it spoke meaningfully to the much more versatile ears of the twilight Meet the Music audience, with its eclectic mix of young blades and adventurous oldies… Not only did the Hindson draw far and away the most enthusiastic applause of any work on the night’s agenda, but its response eclipsed by a long road that afforded to any other world premiere I have ever attended… it was an achievement of significant enough size to turn many composers of the younger generation green with envy. – David Gyger, Opera-Opera, May 2001, Page 281.9

      The world premiere of Matthew Hindson’s

Concerto For Amplified Cello And Orchestra

      , subtitled

In Memoriam

      , was a prime instance of how an enfant terrible (born 1968) can turn music into sensationalism by inventing or inciting effects, from quasi-hysterical to vapid, demanding attention for a deliberate shocker lasting 34 unrelenting minutes. –

Fred Blanks, The North Shore Times, 18 April 2001.

CD Recording Available?

    Not yet.

Other Information

The “Lament” section of the first movement featured in the Sydney Dance Company’s performance of Ellipse, choreographed by Graeme Murphy.

      Part of the first movement of this piece is a re-orchestration of


      , for cello and piano, which is available from

Promethean Editions


In Memoriam

      was a finalist in the

Australian Music Centre


Australian Performing Right Association

    2002 Orchestral Work of the Year.

The Rave and the Nightingale (2001)

for string quartet and string orchestra

duration: 16 minutes

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Excerpt

Programme Notes

Commissioned by Symphony Australia.

Franz Schubert died in 1828, leaving a legacy of nine symphonies, fifteen string quartets, over a thousand songs as well as numerous piano, choral, vocal and other orchestral works. He was aged only 31.

Schubert died from syphilis, or possibly from its treatment (i.e. mercury poisoning). From all accounts he was in a large degree of pain ever since he contracted the disease in the early 1820s. One of the side-effects of syphilis is a gradual descent into insanity, though there do not seem to be any accounts of this happening to Schubert as it did to Robert Schumann.

The later works of Schubert are considered to be important in terms of closing the classical period of music and laying the foundation for future composers such as Liszt, Chopin and Schumann. His last string quartet, Quartet No. 15 in G Major, was composed from 20-30 June 1826 during a brief stay in the village of Waehring. It is a monolithic work, lasting over 60 minutes when all repeats are included. It neatly summarises many of the musical devices typical of Schubert’s writing, especially the mixing of major and minor modes. In string-playing circles this quartet is known as “the G major-minor”.

What sort of music would Schubert have written if he had been born in the late twentieth century instead of the late eighteenth? Of course we will never know, but perhaps the fact that he was so enamoured by the writing of lieder (songs) can suggest him straying towards writing popular music, as that is the dominant form of musically vocal expression in current culture. Maybe we would have a prolific “DJ Franz” writing techno-inspired electronica anthems for the clubs of Europe.

In The Rave and the Nightingale, these ideas are used as a starting point. The work was approached as if Schubert was granted aglimpse into the beginning of the twenty-first century, brought on by the syphilitic dementia he may have been suffering. The first four minutes of the piece are a direct quotation from the original quartet movement (with a cut to reduce its length). Upon the repeat of the exposition in the original quartet, the contemporary treatment begins and takes over, continuing until the end of the work. This “contemporary” filtering of the piece is easily recognizable in most cases. There are many string techniques that were not used during Schubert’s time, as well as a variety of rhythmic and harmonic figures that could be associated with aspects of popular music. However a lot of Schubert’s material has been integrated into the music. Sometimes this is obvious, sometimes less so.

The structure of The Rave and the Nightingale is again based upon Schubert’s original quartet movement, though again, deleting several sections for brevity. In broad terms, the movement follows the original Sonata form that was used by Schubert.

Schubert is also famed for his melodic writing. The role of the ‘nightingale’ has been assigned to this aspect of the original quartet movement. In truth, there is more “rave” than “nightingale” in this work, but the opposition between the two in intended to provide a degree of musical tension and contrast.

Matthew Hindson

born 1968, aged 32

not having written 1/10th the number of works of Schubert

This piece was partly composed whilst I was composer-in-residence at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks House, Paddington.


“Musing on what a “DJ Franz writing techno-inspired electronica” might sound like, Matthew Hindson provides in his latest orchestral work, Rave and the Nightingale (sic) a light-hearted parody of Schubert’s last string quartet. It brought to mind those masters of spoof, PDQ Bach and Gerard Hoffnung.” – Robert Curry, The Australian, 30 July 2001

CD Recording Available?

      Not yet. However, a live recording of the piece is available through the

Australian Music Centre library


Violin Concerto No. 1 (“Australian Postcards”) (2000)

for violin (slight amplification desirable) and orchestra (3333 4331 Timp 2Perc Harp Strings)

duration: 27 minutes

Faber Music publishing details, including online score preview

Audio Excerpts

Opening of third movement (violin and piano reduction)
Middle of third movement (violin and orchestra)

Programme Notes

1. Wind Turbine at Kooragang Island
2. Westaway
3. Grand Final Day

Commissioned by Ars Musica Australis through its founder, Fr. Arthur Bridge.

One of the guiding principles that Fr. Arthur Bridge outlined when commissioning this piece was that it reflect in some way “the Spirit in Australia”. Amongst the 17 violin concertos lodged at the Australian Music Centre are Ross Edwards Maninyas and Peter Sculthorpe’s Irkanda IV, both of which have similar intent.

The approach that I implemented in this piece was that of “Australian Postcards” – i.e. a set of movements that in some way reflected some Australian place or outlook. I decided that each of the “postcards” would portray contemporary rather than historical Australian culture.

There are three separate movements in this work. The first of these is based upon a physical object, the wind turbine at Kooragang Island, near Newcastle. This is a enormous windmill-type object that has been constructed by Energy Australia as a showcase of the possibilities of wind-generated electricity. There are three enormous prongs on this turbine that move at tremendous speed. When standing underneath this turbine, it seems hard to believe that the whole thing won’t come apart and decapitate everyone nearby, such is its power and speed.

The turbine has been portrayed programmatically as well as metaphorically in this movement. The sense of momentum is fast and seemingly never-ending. The solo violin part must perform some death-defying leaps and string crossings. On the metaphorical level, different musical elements have been composed according to relationships of the number three, as there are three prongs to the turbine. (This however is not essential to the appreciation of the movement).

In 1998, whilst on a visit to Tasmania, my fiancee Christine and I had the opportunity to tour some of the smaller towns in Tasmania. One of these, Westaway, is a village near Mt. Field National Park. Sometimes it would seem to be an idyllic existence living in a country town – no traffic or parking hassles, a clean environment with a strong sense of community amongst its residents. However unemployment and a general atmosphere of boredom are possibly closer to the everyday reality. In Westaway it seemed that every house had a “For Sale” sign on it. Since the closure or scaling back of logging operations, there were no jobs and high unemployment. Services such as banks were removed, causing further dislocation and disillusionment amongst residents.

This movement is then a tribute and portrayal of such small towns and communities in rural and regional Australia. The mood is hardly doom and gloom, but largely a reflection upon “better times” and an optimistic outcome that can be achieved in the long run through creative thinking and innovative solutions.

Sport is an integral part of Australian life for most people, and one of the greatest celebrations in the yearly calendar is Grand Final Day. The Grand Final in whatever sport is hyped up to be the greatest game of the year, a day of high emotions and high drama, of acrobatic feats and legendary skills. Parades are held before and after the great match. The thrill of your team winning the greatest prize of the year is unsurpassed. (Of course the depression of backing the losing team is palpable as I well know, barracking for the Geelong Football Team). The final siren sounds, the club song is sung, all-night parties ensue and life is really worth celebrating!

The approximate duration of the Violin Concerto is 27 minutes.

This piece was partly composed whilst I was composer-in-residence at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks House, Paddington.

notes by Matthew Hindson


“Hindson’s Violin Concerto afforded Naoko Miyamoto, who premiered the work in March, a wealth of opportunities to display her virtuosity and lyrical skill. While not abrogating the more turbulent segments of his muse in this piece, Hindson also exposes his soothing side – particularly in the rather gentle second movement, entitled Westaway. The opening, entitled Wind Turbine at Kooragang Island, admirably reflects the turbulence implicit in its title, and the finale, Grand Final Day, also gives us the sort of the energetic persona I have come to think of as the trademark of this young composer. “

David Gyger, Opera-Opera, August 2001, page 284.17

“After hearing Lara St. John’s West Coast premiere of the Violin Concerto No. 1 “Australian Postcards” by Matthew Hindson, I did something I rarely do upon hearing something for the very first time: I ran out at intermission and bought the recording.
I liked it, and I wanted to hear it again… I found Hindson’s concerto both familiar and challenging; in a musical language that I understand, yet full of new thoughts and ideas. Certainly it sounds modern, but sometimes it’s modern like a movie score, and other times it’s modern like an edgy new symphony.” – Laurie Niles,, 14 Nov 2011.

“The concerto, which was written in 2000, is a showpiece. A prominent figure and power broker on the Australian music scene, Hindson meant his three movements to be musical postcards of his homeland, supplying Australia with a conventional “three places” symphonic triptych as so many other composers have done for their countries… First, a wind turbine on Kooragang Island roars away, offering Hindson a chance to stir up a lot of instrumental dust, and he does so with appealing relish. “Westaway” is pastoral and moody, representing a village in Tasmania where natural beauty and poverty are found. “Grand Final Day” is a speedy, spirited spectacle of sport… Hindson’s musical descriptions are straightforward and sometimes clever. But his talent here is for a contagious pop sensibility that occasionally takes over the concerto. Were he to turn to scoring for Hollywood, I think things would look up at the movies. Mark Swed, LA Times, 14 November 2011.

CD Recording Available?

A recording of this piece is available on Ancalogon Records, recorded by Lara St. John with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Sarah Ionannides. Available via iTunes, Amazon etc. etc. etc.

Other Information

The second movement of this piece featured in the Sydney Dance Company’s performance of Ellipse, choreographed by Graeme Murphy.

The second and third movements of this piece are on the Australian Music Examinations Board syllabus for the Licentiate Diploma.