Patea/Doubtful Sound (2022/23)

for Symphony Orchestra. Duration 5 mins.


Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, Cor Anglais, Eb Clarinet, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet in Bb, 2 Bassoons, 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 2 Tenor Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba, 5 Percussionists – Per. 1 Timpani, Perc. 2 Gong/Tenor Drum/Cocoa Bean Rattle, Perc. 3 Concert Bass Drum/Gourd Maracas, Perc. 4 Marimba, Perc. 5 Shekere/Gong, Concert Harp, Strings

Programme Note

Patea/Doubtful Sound is an awe-inspiring fjord in the Fjordland area of New Zealand’s South Island. In 2021 my wife and I had the good fortune to do a 2 day cruise around this haunting ecological wonder of the world. The majestic vistas and unbridled nature of the area is very special to experience. Naturally, it inspired me to develop this piece of music.

I creating this piece I used an older, unpublished orchestral work as its basis, however I modified it considerably, changing its pace and orchestration whilst adding in numerous transcriptions of New Zealand birdsong including those of Tui, Bellbirds/Korimako, Grey Warblers/Riroriro, Fantails, New Zealand Robin, Silvereye (Tauhou) and Paradise Ducks.

The piece is suitably evocative, with two sections depicting ‘Doubtful Dawn and ‘The Sound Awakens’. The music moves from an eerie calm towards an ostinato driven finale which suggests a boat moving gradually from the majestic fjord out into the open see. Fanciful as it seems, the piece ends with the call of a Tui, which is very unlikely to be found out at sea in Fjordland, but perhaps this Tui hitched a ride on the ship alongside its fellow forest-dwelling birds!