for solo cello
Katatjuta (the Olgas) and Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) are two prominent landmarks in central Australia, dominating a flat desert. The Central Australia of today is the result of millions of years of erosion with only the harder rocks surviving above the desert. Katatjuta is an Australian aboriginal word for ‘many heads’. The rounded domes result from stress inside the rock which causes huge slabs to split off parallel to the surface. The Uluru National Park has now been returned to the indegenous people to manage. As most tourists (alas, including myself) find climbing the rock an irresistible challenge, and there is only one way up and down, the local Aboriginal people, somewhat bemused by this ‘odd’ behavioural trait, have likened the meandering line of climbers to ants ... white ants !
This piece is dedicated to two Aboriginal activists and spokespeople whose enthusiasm and intelligence I admire:-
Pat Dodson is from Central Australia: ‘Trees and wetlands have gone. The country has become a large checkerboard of fences, with little hedgerow bushes that are an imitation of Britain’s countryside. None of this has anything to do with the spirit of Australia. A human spirit has to be in resonance, in harmony with his country, and he lives from that strength.’
Michael Mansell is from Tasmania and has suggested (c.1993) that there could be an Aboriginal boycott of the 2000 Sydney Olympics if a satisfactory reconciliation between black and white Australia has not been achieved by then - brave talk indeed in a nation of sports fiends. Well, 2000 is here and there is no reconciliation and no republic. Instead, we have a dickhead of a Prime Minister in John Howard whose reactionary views are trying to return us to the ‘white supremacy’ days of the 1950s.
The major influence on my musical thinking is:-
Psyche of Place - landscape, space, sun, etc.
There is nothing nationalistic in my music. It is about being aware of ‘place’ - where you live and how you fit. Even if you live in the city, the vast space of the interior is a part of one's psyche, as much as the surf and the ocean are an everpresent reality. That is, unless your 'body' is here and your 'head' is in Europe or somewhere else.