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Picnic At Hanging Rock

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Classical. Vocal Score. Composed 2013. Edition Wilhelm Hansen #WH31154. Published by Edition Wilhelm Hansen (BT.WH31154).

Item Number: BT.WH31154

ISBN 9788759820476.

Picnic At Hanging Rock (Utflykt til det okända) for Orchestra by Britta Byström (2010).

Programme Note

What we see and what we seem are but adream, a dream within a dream” – These words opens Peter Wier’s film on Joan Lindsay’s novel Picnic at Hanging Rock from 1967. The story takes place on Valentines Day 1900. A groupof school girls go on a picnic at Hanging Rock in Australia and get caught up in a volcanic eruption. Three of the girls disappear without a trace – as if they where swallowed up by the mountain. 

Inspiredby Peter Weir’s poetic and many layered film I have composed a tone poem – with the emphasis on poem – or poetry – as opposed to programme music. Disappearance is an important motif. The piece is aseries of disappearances and transformations – one after another. At the end you can hear how the sound of the orchestra disappears in a swarm of clanging triangles – a way of picturing the girls disappearing into themountain. 

I have tried to catch several other of the characteristics of the film: The school girls in their white dresses, the dangerous yet alluring mountain where the watches mysteriously stop at 12, the spellthat makes the girls climb higher and higher, and – at the end – the unanswered hesitant question: what really did happen? 

Britta Byström 


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