Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (Rain Dancing) (2006)
Instrumentation: 2+picc.2.2+Eflat.bcl.-
For Jill Richards
Publisher: Bardic Edition
Study Score in preparation
Available from
Goodmusic Publishing
Full Score and Parts on hire from
Schott Hire Library
Duration: 22 minutes

First performance: 17 October 2007; Linder Auditorium, Johannesburg; Jill Richards piano, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Nicholas Cleobury conductor

Programme note

This piece has what one expects in a piano concerto: a clear structure, recognisably recurring harmonies, quite complex polythythmic layering, lush orchestral textures with lavish percussion, a dazzling virtuoso piano part, and tunes that you can whistle as you leave the concert hall. Yet this is not a conventional 'classical' or 'romantic' concerto.
The structure was mostly not pre-determined. There are two cyclic forms (common in African and minimalist music), interwoven throughout most of the piece. One is based on the two-chord structure of traditional African bow music, the other is a sequence of four chords most often articulated by the brass. Although the concerto was composed as one 22-minute sweep, three sections are discernible: a quieter 'slow' movement starts halfway followed by a faster and louder finale, although the joins of the three movements are blurred.
I use film montage (editing) technique to construct the music. I tend to avoid the word 'theme' because I don't 'do' themes and develop theme in the traditional way. But the tunes, such as they are, are placed in different environments each time they return, so they are never quite the same. You will however find traditional and popular South African musics woven into or referenced in the piece.
The Concerto was written as a present for Jill Richards, every South African composer's Best Friend. She has been playing my music all over the world for many years as she has other South African composers, and has recently recorded a CD of my complete solo pieces. So it was a surprise to me that this turned out to be the first piece I'd written especially for her!

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