Heartland (2001)

for SATB choir and two pianos

duration: 20 minutes

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Excerpts

first movement:

third movement:

Programme Notes

introduction: Home

(text by LF)

i. Stand Up

(text by Sappho)

ii. A Thing of Beauty

(text by Keats)

iii. Did you miss me?

(text by Rosetti, Shelley and Gordon)

Programme Notes

Commissioned by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir for the 1st Australiasian Choral Festival, with financial assistance from the Australia Council, the commonwealth government’s Arts funding and advisory body.

Heartland is a work that was especially commissioned by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian choir for first performance on 15th April 2001, as part of a festival of combined Gay and Lesbian choirs from throughout Australia and New Zealand.

There are a variety of texts that have been chosen for this piece. The title “Heartland” suggests a place to which you feel a great sense of attachment, as well where you most feel safe and secure – a ‘home’.

The introductory movement to this piece most literally details this sense of belonging, with a text by L.F. slowly incanted over an ever-shifting semi-improvisatory choral part.

In contrast to this often-amorphous treatment, the next movement is declamatory, almost a call-to-arms. “Stand up and look at me, face to face, friend to friend”, Sappho commands, though also implores “unfurl the loveliness in your eyes” and a tender “for you I will leave behind all that I love”. A heartland need not be a place of exclusive happiness, it can also be a place where life’s hardships and tribulations may have been encountered, such as watching the slow loss of a loved one.

The middle movement of this work uses texts by Keats and the Book of Ruth to portray this sense of “heartland”. However, it is often the sense of unabashed joy that may be associated most strongly with a a heartland.

The final movement certainly aims to portray that mood, using as its foundation a somewhat over-the-top text written by Christina Rosetti in 1859, as well as poems by Shelley and Adam Lindsay Gordon.

notes by Matthew Hindson.


“A splendid collection of new, or at least newish, Australian, British and American vocal works was performed by the Sydney Philharmonia Chamber Singers and Symphony Chorus in the Verbrugghen Hall of the Sydney Conservatorium on Saturday, July 7… while nothing was without interest, its most rewarding meat lay in pieces by two Australian composers…

“Matthew Hindson’s Heartland… concluded the concert. This piece is a dazzlingly virtuosic setting of an eclectic lot of texts ranging from the Biblical Book of Ruth to Keats, Shelley, Sappho, Adam Gordon and Christina Rossetti, and was a new experience for me – both because I had not encountered it before… and for the significantly more mature intensity and flavour of Hindson’s muse than I had met previously. Without losing intermittent traces of the larrikinism which was such a prominent ingredient of his earlier compositions, Hindson has begun to delve much further into the vast domain of the human heart and soul.

David Gyger, Opera-Opera, pp. 356.22 – 356.23, August 2007.” .

CD Recording Available?

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

Other Information

Most recently performed by the Sydney Philharmonia Choir at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, July 2007.  The final movement was performed by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir in 2011.

3 thoughts on “Heartland (2001)”

  1. Errata and clarifications for the first movement, “Home”.

    Bar 14: the piano reduction is incorrect for the bass part. The basses should continue singing the figure from the previous bar.

    Bar 19: The bass notes should be F and A, not G and B natural.

    Should that be exactly 13 secondes for the first bar or about?

    Around about. I’m aware that time is very flexible in these sorts of situations.

    The tempo “Very slowly” is meant for the alto-line in measure 4, right, and then for the basses (“My home”) – this tempo has nothing to do with the seconds at the beginning, has it?

    That is correct. It should be whatever feels comfortable.

    The “piu mosso” in measure 9: does that mean quarter notes are “piu mosso” or the half-notes – do the new half notes refer to the quarter-notes from before, or quarter-notes stay quarter-notes, but just a little bit faster now?

    Again, this is difficult to say. It is dependent I think on the number of singers, the acoustic etc. I imagine that the Piu Mosso could be half=56-60, whereas the opening would be more like half=40 (quarter=80)

    The tenors and one measure further the basses from measure 10 (“choose a rhythmic pattern from the following …”): do these patterns have to have one common tempo, or is every singer free in tempo with that?

    Free tempo.

    Do you mean to have every note of the chords in the men-voices, or is that free and accidental (that’s how I understand it) and everytime new again.

    When I originally wrote this piece it was for 200 voice choir, and so I thought that they would have every note covered. It would be good to have every note covered at least at some stage…

    5. measure 15: the beginning of every voice is in the old tempo (“piu mosso”) and after that every singer has his own tempo to finish the phrase, doesn’t he?

    That is correct. The intended effect is to have a series of antiphonal entries which then become more ‘random’, if you know what I mean.

    Measure 17 and following: the men-voices – may they change to the next figure individually like at the beginning (which I think is meant) or exactely on the bar?

    I think it’s individually – there needs to be some overlap between it. The problem (and I am aware of this) is that they don’t have very much time in each bar, but that’s OK.

    What might be good is if you had one bass singer changing to the bottom note at the start of each bar, to help establish the chord. But again, as long as this doesn’t make it sound artificial or forced.

  2. Hi Matthew
    Just a request that when you have the time to revise this page you add that the piece was also performed by the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs in 2007 at the Sydney Con. I was singing in this and also when we (as SGLC) performed Stand Up in the Concert during the Gay Games 2002.

    Good luck with the Aurora Festival. Michael Atherton is a friend.

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