Category: String Orchestra

Works for full String Orchestra

Count Dracula’s Waltz

This piece is an imagining of a Waltz that may have been danced at an elegant ball given by the debonaire Count Dracula in his Gothic castle. A fun choice for Halloween, it is written in the key of D minor, creating a slightly dark feel, and modulating briefly to G minor. The melodies and accompaniments are swapped and shared throughout, giving players an opportunity to learn about the relationship and balance between voices. Attention given to subtle dynamics and musical phrasing further creates a sense of style. First finger shifts for upper strings and some optional 3rd position work for violin 1 provide additional technical challenges.

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Labyrinth

In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete. Its function was to hold the Minotaur – the half-bull, half-man monster eventually killed by the hero Theseus. The design of the structure was so complex it was all but impossible to escape.

This piece reflects the architecture of the labyrinth with twists and turns, loops and detours. The agitato quaver motif introduced by the cellos at the beginning of the piece is taken up by the other instruments but never quite resolves. The mood of the piece is often dark, with moments of calm interspersed with driving rhythms and expressive melodic lines.

Labyrinth is written for advanced string orchestra, and requires a high level of technical facility by all players. Each section is show-cased equally, and there is no doubling of parts for viola or double bass.

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Cat with a Fiddle

This piece is written in Rockabilly style, with plenty of shuffle bows, open string double-stops and syncopation to challenge and engage your students. The semitone slides focus attention on correct finger placement as well as encouraging a relaxed left hand. Melodies and counter-melodies are shared between instruments, and the off-beat double-stops played with an easy bounced bow are great fun to play and add that country feel.

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Sea Fever

Sea Fever evokes the exhilaration and grandeur of a voyage on the high seas, drawing its mood and imagery from the famous poem of the same name by John Masefield.

This work was commissioned by the Australian String Teachers Association and was premiered by massed string orchestra at the 2019 Melbourne String Orchestra Festival.

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Clapping Song

Lively ostinato rhythmic patterns set up a driving momentum under sustained melodic lines, with bold interjections from the first violins on a repeated augmented 4th interval. This piece is a great way to introduce hook stroke and the low 1st finger (E string). A diverse range of dynamics creates colour and drama, while the swapping between hand-clapping and bowing makes for a fun challenge.

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Arabian Dance

A continuous pulsing rhythm and arching melody lines evoke the mood of the Arabian Desert, gradually building in intensity from beginning to end. This piece introduces the augmented interval between Bb and C# (violins & violas) and Eb and F# (cellos & basses), syncopation, harmonics and open string double stops. Includes 3rd position option for Violin 1 and alternative passages for advanced Double Bass players.

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Storm Warrior

Strong driving rhythmic sections are juxtaposed with sustained melodies to create the colourful fantasy world of the Storm Warrior. The continuous rhythmic patterns are passed between instruments while contrasting melodic themes move seamlessly from sonorous lines in the low register to delicate lines in the upper. A great piece to develop listening and ensemble skills.

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Passacaglia

Written in the style of a Baroque Passacaglia, this piece consists of a series of elegant melodic variations over a relaxed ostinato line shared between all instruments. The main theme is introduced in a simple form at the beginning of the piece, gradually becoming more complex as each counter-melody is added. Passacaglia offers a valuable opportunity to work on the sustained bow, tone production, phrasing and ensemble skills.

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Little Critters

A lively piece full of contrasting moods and styles depicting the sly antics of mischievous, imaginary little critters running wild. Themes are thrown from instrument to instrument with interjections and driving quaver passages, creating a picture of chaos. The introduction of the 6/8 grazioso section appears to restore a semblance of order while maintaining an underlying sense of impending disaster. The first theme re-appears in a more complex form and moves to an exciting conclusion. A comprehensive range of dynamics, bowings and articulation makes this piece a challenging and enjoyable addition to your teaching repertoire.

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