Category Archives: Orchestral Works

Boom-Box (1999)

for orchestra (2(I=picc).2.2.2 – 4230 – perc(3) 10 tom-t/chicken shaker/tgl/siren/glsp/vib/2 congas/vibraslap/tam-t/SD/2 BD/susp.cym/mar/xylo- harp – strings)

also available in a version for concert band, also available in a version for brass band.

duration: 4 minutes

Faber Music publishing details (orchestral version only)

Audio Excerpt

Programme Notes

Boom-Box was composed in 1999 especially for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s education concerts, in this case to be performed for year K-2 students. It formed one of the works written during Matthew Hindson’s residency with this orchestra.

It is a loud and vibrant piece that features the percussion section of the orchestra.

Programme note by Matthew Hindson

CD Recording Available?

Not at this time. However the Sydney Symphony Orchestra made a recording for distribution in their education kit and so may have some CDs featuring this work. Alternatively, the Australian Music Centre has a copy in their library.

Other Information

Also available: the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Education Section has produced an educational resource kit on this piece, as have the Melbourne Symphony and The Queensland Orchestra.

This work has featured in numerous education concerts by Australian and international orchestras, including the Sydney Sinfonia, the Melbourne Symphony, The Queensland Orchestra, The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic.

Headbanger (2001)

for orchestra ( – 4331 – timp – perc(2) vib/xylo/glsp/drum kit/tgl/3 wdbl/5 c.bell/water gong/ch.cym/tam-t/timbales/3 roto-toms or tom-t/2 bongos/BD – harp – strings)

also available in a version for wind band, also available in a version for brass band.

duration: 6 minutes

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Excerpt

Programme Notes

Headbanger, commissioned by Symphony Australia, is a six-minute orchestral fanfare. The term “headbanger” usually describes an adherent of heavy metal music, and seems to come from the motion of severe head-shaking employed by audience members at heavy metal concerts.

It is unlikely that many of the audience members will be induced to bang their heads upon hearing this piece. However, they may be able to hear some musical gestures that could be associated with heavy metal or rock music – such as an often-‘heavy’ bassline based around a repeated drone note, many bass-drum figures, generally loud dynamic levels, and quite aggressive rhythmic motives. Headbanger is not at all entirely a piece of heavy metal popular music. It also displays a number of quieter sections, including a passage for three clarinets utilizing slow glissandos.

Headbanger is the latest instalment in a series of short orchestral works specifically written around particular objects of our time (the late twentieth/early twenty-first century). Other works include RPM, Boom-Box and Auto-Electric.

Programme notes by Matthew Hindson. First performance: 23.11.01, Australia, Adelaide Town Hall: Adelaide Symphony Orchestra/Kristjan Jarvi

CD Recording Available?

A recording of this piece has been made by The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for Trust CDs.

Buy from iTunes

Other information

This work featured in Veitstanz: Shake Rattle and Roll, a ballet choreographed by Berndt Schindowski, performed by Ballet Schindowski in Gelsenkirchen, Germany (January – March 2004).

A Symphony of Modern Objects (Symphony No. 1) 2003

for orchestra (2222 4221 Hp 2Pc Strings)

duration: 41 minutes

each movement may be performed as a stand-alone movement if desired.

Faber Music publishing details, including online score preview

Audio Excerpts

Excerpt from the first movement, “Silicon Revolution”

Programme Notes

  1. Silicon Revolution
  2. Spirit Song
  3. Twisted Ladders
  4. Vietnam War Memorial

commissioned by Ars Musica Australis to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of Father Arthur Bridge for first performance by the Australian Youth Orchestra

People often ask composers, “when are you going to write a symphony?”. The symphonic form has made something of a comeback in recent times, with composers such as Carl Vine writing six of them and Ross Edwards four. In my case I have not necessarily thought of the Symphony in its traditional meaning, but rather as a a collective noun for an encompassing set of movements for orchestra. In this way, the overall architecture of A Symphony of Modern Objects is perhaps more closely related to the classical symphonies of Haydn and Mozart than the gigantically unified architectures envisaged by Bruckner or Mahler.

In almost all of my musical explorations to date, I have been interested in writing music about the culture and society of today. Each movement of A Symphony of Modern Objects deals with one aspect, or one set of aspects of contemporary culture.

Many of the most incredible changes in our lives over the past 10-20 years have been due to the advent of computers – a “silicon revolution”. They have transformed much of our work and leisure environments in fundamental ways. Personal computers are in a majority of homes around the world. People communicate rapidly and easily across the world using modems and the internet. In our leisure time, we may play handheld computer games or listen to electronically-generated forms of music (sometimes onomatapoeically derided as “inch” music). Computers have made everything, including our lives in general, seem so much faster, whizzing past before we’ve had a chance to really digest what’s going on. All of these characteristics have been portrayed in the first movement of this work.

Perhaps as a result of this burgeoning speed, in recent years there has emerged a new form of spirituality, that of the New Age Movement. A new genre of music has correspondingly evolved, namely “New Age music”. New Age music is not a hetrogeneous genre, but in broad terms, its characteristics are: “a contemporary music which is physically relaxing… Rhythmic or tonal movements animate the experience of flying, floating, cruising, gliding, or hovering within the auditory space… employing natural outdoor ambiences – sounds of water, birds, insects, thunder, etc… the major effect of this music is to take the listener out of their body or at least out of their normal sound environment… attempting to convey the listener inward and upward to higher planes of consciousness… Continuous drones or slowly changing, endlessly repeated rhythmic structures… a continuum of spatial imagery and emotion, rather than as thematic musical relationships, compositional ideas, or performance values.”.

I am personally not attached to the New Age movement in any way – I cannot fathom how a piece of quartz or a drone with a recording of a running creek could affect my life – but there are certainly many people for whom this form of spirituality is genuine and important. Unfortunately, as is probably the case with most religious movements, there also seems to be a large number of charlatans whose involvement relates very closely to a desire to make money. It is this group of people to whom the title of this movement, “Spirit Song “, is directed, using some of the cliches of New Age music.

The emerging field of biotechnology is one that holds great potential for the future. This year is fifty years since the discovery of DNA, the basic building blocks of all Earth-based life. Not a week goes past without a new discovery or manipulation in this field. Perhaps this is the new frontier of discovery and exploration, an optimistic and generous vision of the future. Scientists are the new frontier-riders, racing to be the first to decipher gene sequences and their effect upon our daily lives. While there is the potential for wrong-doing, “Twisted Ladders” paints an optimistic or perhaps naive vision of the present and future.

In contrast to fresh-faced innocence, our country’s involvement in the Vietnam War can be viewed in hindsight as an altogether destructive experience. For me, the most disturbing aspect of this war was the way in which the returned soldiers were treated upon their return. I find it difficult to imagine the scenario of a 19 year old, conscripted to fight in an extraordinarily physically and psychologically damaging environment, coming home only to be ignored at best, or reviled and abused at worst. It is only in recent times that the Australian government has publically and honestly recognized the sacrifices made by these men and women in what was, at the time, the service of their country.

The Vietnam War was, of course, traumatic not only to the Australian serving personnel, but also to their families, and to the entire people of Vietnam in general. One need only imagine the grief-stricken wailing of a mother whose daughter has been sprayed with napalm, or of a mother whose son has returned psychologically damaged beyond repair, or of the absolute terror of a soldier or village when ambushed and attacked by opposing forces, to realize that we need to recognize the great and on-going sacrifices that all participants made to this traumatic period of recent history.

Programme notes by Matthew Hindson


CALL it the year’s most innovative concert: two world premieres came from the splendid Australian Youth Orchestra and the first-rate Sydney Philharmonia Choir under the excellent conductor Thomas Woods in the Opera House last week.

Matthew Hindson’s A Symphony Of Modern Objects was more like four tone poems (Silicon Revolution; Mind Body Spirit Wallet; Twisted Ladders, Vietnam War Memorial) captivating music, sometimes brittle, dramatic, syncopated, ironic. – Fred Blanks, North Shore Times, 6 August 2003, page 19.

Matthew Hindson’s Symphony of Modern Objects is firmly rooted in the contemporary world. The frenetic and episodic first movement and the quirky, skittish, string-laden third movement (Copland’s Appalachian Spring meets Steve Reich) are colourful depictions of the computer and biotech revolutions respectively, while the lyrical second movement is a delightfully ironic take on New Age music… Hindson displays virtuosity in his orchestration, making imaginative use of the orchestral palette.

Murray Black, The Australian, 28 July 2003, page 7.

The symphony was Matthew Hindson’s first… Its first movement, Silicon Revolution, began with bold juxtapositions of opposites: big brass chords and flutes babbling like satellite signals, justifying the evocation of “objects” in the title… The second movement, an affectionate churning of cliches… The Twisted Ladder of the third movement referred to DNA and the movement was a spiralling scherzo of modern popular rhythmic shifts.

The last movement, Vietnam War Memorial, was deliberately and unavoidably naive… After a plangent wailing oboe solo, Hindson mixed a Vietnamese fiddle tune with pictorial war music, returning emphatically to the Vietnamese tune in G string unison. Though simple, even simplistic, it seemed born of sound expressive instincts. Peter MacCallum, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2003.

CD Recording Available?

A recording of this piece has been made by The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for Trust CDs.

Other Information

The first movement of this work, “Silicon Revolution” featured in Veitstanz: Shake Rattle and Roll, a ballet choreographed by Berndt Schindowski, performed by Ballet Schindowski in Gelsenkirchen, Germany (January – March 2004).

Other recent performances of this work or part of this work have been by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, The Queensland Orchestra and the Melbourne Youth Orchestra.

Auto-Electric (2003)

for orchestra (2222 4221 Hp 2Pc Strings)
duration: 5 minutes

Faber Music publishing details, including online score preview

Audio Excerpt

Programme Notes

Commissioned by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra for their 2003 Education Programme, Auto-Electric is a five-minute work for orchestra. The main motive of the piece comes from the rhythm of the title, i.e. the rhythm of the phrase “auto-electric” . Stated at the opening by a solo trumpet, this motive works its way around the orchestra in many different forms, predominantly at a fast tempo.

The phrase “auto-electric” refers to the electrical systems of motor vehicles. This piece also uses images of cars and trucks travelling past at high speeds as another source of inspiration.

(prog.note by Matthew Hindson)

CD Recording Available?

Not yet. .

Other Information

This work was performed as part of The Queensland Orchestra‘s 2005 Education series.

Homage to Metallica (1993)

for orchestra (3 picc(II+III=fl) – 5331 – timp – perc(2): wind chimes/3 c.bell/2 wdbl/bongos/3 roto-t/brake drum/tom-t/susp.cym/hi-hat/anvil/tam-t/SD/2 BD+foot.ped/BD – harp – solo amplified 1/8 violin – strings)

duration: 14 minutes

Faber Music version fo full orchestra, including score preview.

Faber Music version for reduced orchestra, including score preview.

Audio Excerpt

Programme Notes

Homage to Metallica was written by Matthew Hindson in 1993 “not just as a tribute to this particular band, but rather to the whole genre of heavy metal music’. The listener needs no knowledge of Metallica songs to be taken into Hindson’s fantastical world.

Heavy metal music often centres around the ‘evil’ interval of the tritone and the semitone. These intervals are found in the Locrian mode which some centuries earlier was consider an illegal interval. The ‘illegal’ takes on a more confronting reality in the heavy metal world of dark satanic fantasy. But Hindson is not trying to encourage devil worship; rather, he is attracted to “the extreme sense of theatricality, virtuosity and rhythmic energy that is so representative of this style”.

Instrumentally, the use of a 1/8th sized solo violin may at first appear to belong to the school string class (and indeed this is where Hindson, a string co-ordinator at MLC School, conceived the idea) but once amplified and played in ‘thrash’ style it becomes an entirely different musical weapon. The small fingerboard allows for rapid leaps, while wide glissandi and the scratchy tone (this is no Strad!) helps to conjure the timbre of a distortion guitar.

Distinctive melodic lines in parallel semitones are featured in the solo violin and also in the trombones (chosen partly for their glissandi capability) which take on the timbre of a car horn or, as in the opening of the piece, and air-raid siren. One is alternatively flung between ‘road rage’ and ‘War of the Universe’.

Homage to Metallica, however, does not exist in a completely dark world. There are passages of ecstatic tonal harmony towards which the music is often moving. These brilliant major-chord hues are just as crucial to the piece as the dark menace of the Locrian-based harmony, and one only needs to look at Hindson’s catalogue of works to find similar ideas in pieces such as In Search of Ecstasy, Rave-Elation and Chrissietina’s Magic Fantasy.

Written for large orchestra with triple winds, the piece opens with massive orchestral blows measured out by glissandi trombones and the explosive clanging anvil which tolls like a prelude to Armageddon. The orchestra builds up to an ecstatic melée of virtuosity before subsiding to solitary harp arpeggios in E minor. Soulful melodies in the cor anglais and solo viola start a process of textural crescendo which leads to a passage for the solo violin. This sets up the thrash (‘rhythmic energy’) in repeated notes which remain for the majority of the piece, reinforced by pounding bass drum crotchets and (later) racing rototom patterns. The melodic material here is modally clear in a style of high drama.

A second passage for the solo violin, this time a cadenza, suspends rhythmic motion in favour of a more solitary exploration of the instrument — heavy metal Paganini! The coda is marked ‘apocalyptic’ and brass triads alternate in E and B flat major (a tritone apart) creating an aura of Wagnerian splendour underscored by the thrash motive in one last surge towards ecstasy in E major.

© Stuart Greenbaum, 1997


“Entertainment, of the colour and movement variety, was the essence of Matthew Hindson’s hopefully tongue-in-cheek Homage to Metallica, which had the whole orchestra playing like the clappers to produce a white-nose accompaniment to Brian Porter’s portrayal of a quarter-size violinist from hell.” – The Adelaide Advertiser, 11 September 1993.

“Simone Young is not one to do things by halves. Her programme for last weeks’ “Meet the Music” concert made great demands on herself and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra: No less important, it was a refreshing and stimulating occasion for the responsive, young audience.
She began and closed that evening with modern music… In her very concise remarks to the audience, Ms. Young offered two challenging suggestions.
The first was that, in drawing upon the “heavy metal” fashion, Hindson is following a long tradition of classical composers using folk material…
The tough, confronting, repetitive chords of Metallica, its more sentimental (and palling) middle section and its dancing, concluding pages with the, well, “folkish”, if you insist, rasping, amplified “Kit-fiddle” (eighth-sized violin) all held the attention. The piece definitely warrants repeating. ” – John Carmody , The Sun-Herald – Timeout, 24 August, 1997.

AS ITS title proclaims, Matthew Hindson’s Homage to Metallica has been prompted by a well-known group working in the genre usually called heavy metal rock.

Most people associate heavy metal with, among other things, loudness. Was Homage to Metallica unusually loud in its first performance in the Opera House by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra? No. Other attributes commonly assigned to heavy metal are an exceptionally aggressive beat and dark or actively provocative words. There were no words in this wholly orchestral piece and no rock-type beat, not even in the clanging opening chords.

So what is the point of the title? Hindson seems to be paying tribute to the ability of Metallica to invent variations on stereotyped heavy metal formulas and its capacity for stepping outside the implications of its generic label. His own score abandons the aggression of its initial gestures quite quickly. We hear chord sliding into chord in a surprisingly conventional sequence – and then the solo viola, beautifully played by Caroline Henbest (on loan from the Australian Chamber Orchestra) sings a reflective and beautiful modal melody that might have come from a meditative idyll by Vaughan Williams or Koda’ly.
The most sustained resumption of forceful and strident music occurs when the orchestra reinforces the blistering attack achieved by Martin Lass in playing a one-eighth-size violin with a contact mike attached. The actual sound of the instrument, played and amplified in this way, is like a magnification of the effect produced by some pre-electric 78 rpm records when activated with a heavy steel stylus (heavy metal again). It is an interesting and memorable timbre, especially when activated with the skill and commitment that Lass brought to it and helped ensure a welcome for Hindson’s deliberately inconsistent work, with its alternations of the roles of tiger and lamb.

Homage to Metallica was the opening gesture in one of the most inviting and enjoyable programs ever assembled for the SSO’s 6.30 pm series. ” – Roger Covell, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Aug 1997

CD Recording Available?

Not yet. However, a live recording of the piece is available through the Australian Music Centre library.

Other Information

This work featured in Ellipse, a ballet choreographed by Graeme Murphy for the Sydney Dance Company, which toured Australia and the US.

Also available: an analysis and classroom kit based on Homage to Metallica is available through the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.