Stone Poem

2 wind quintets, 2 speakers and stone curtain
Text Michael Harlow
 Ngaio Marsh Theatre , Christchurch, NZ
Kit and Michael practising on the stone curtain
Kit and Michael practising on the stone curtain for the performance of ‘Stone Poem’—1976

Commissioned by APRA for the Sonic Circus IV in Christchurch 1976. Written for the Ilam Wind Ensemble who performed the work in the Ngaio Marsh Theatre, conducted by Thomas Rogers. Scored for double wind quintet placed antiphonally, two speakers (Michael Harlow and Kit Powell) and a stone curtain (played by the speakers).

Introduction to the score of Stone Poem
Introduction to the score of Stone Poem for 2 Wind Quintets, 2 Speakers and Stone Curtain

This was my first collaborative work with Michael Harlow—how it was that we came to use stones is described on the Michael Harlow–page and also in the J. M. Moreau Interview.

It was performed very successfully (but only once) in the Ngaio Marsh Theatre of the Canterbury University. Douglas Lilburn was present and was very positive in his reaction. The work was also recorded by Radio New Zealand but apparently lost!

Stone Poem — score extract
Stone Poem — score extract

Michael Harlow wrote the following in the December 1976 issue of Landfall

Stone Poem
Stonepoem is scored for two antiphonal wind quintets plus two speakers with stones. It is in three sections: slow/fast/ slow. The first section contains a stone cadenza, and the third a canon for the two antiphonal groups. The work was commissioned by APRA for the Ilam Wind Ensemble to perform at Sonic Circus 4.
Stonepoem: one kind of song, one kind of poem. Stone-poems were, and are, always being made, always being sought and imagined into existence. As with music and its measures of time, space, and feeling, the stonepoem is always there—waiting in the enigmas of possibility, in the curve of a hand, in the weight and shaping force of earth, air, fire, and water. And waiting too, in the voice. Stonepoem: the extension into and out of music—the music of ‘matter’ found in its elemental state and shaped through the imaginative fields of sounds and images. The ‘secret’ life of the stonepoem is no secret: it is the imaginative notation of discovery, embraced in the music of the stone and the music of the voice. It is measured against the silence of space and born in the images that we dream we may become.