World Premiere – A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers

A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers
World Premere of A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers

It was with great pleasure and pride that we watched, heard and experienced the world premiere of A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers.

The World Premiere of A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers was performed on Sunday 1 November 2009 at 3pm in Newcastle City Hall (Australia).

In 2009 the City of Newcastle celebrated 150 years of democracy as a local government body.

It was back in late 2007 that the Coal River Working Party initiated discussions that would eventually lead to a new Symphonic work in dedication of Newcastle in over 50 years.

The idea was first suggested at a presentation before Newcastle City Council’s Strategic Heritage Committee by Boyce Pizzey. To accompany the inspiring sky cannon light sculptures, Doug Lithgow wondered whether the Conservatorium of Music could arrange a performance of John Antill’s Symphony on a City (1959), originally commissioned by the City of Newcastle.

World Premere of A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers
World Premere of A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers

The idea was taken by the Chair of the CRWP to a meeting with Carmel Lutton (the then Head) of the Conservatorium  of Music. Carmel Lutton suggested, that rather perform an old work, why don’t we commission a new piece for Newcastle.

We thought that was a splendid idea and a meeting was then arranged between DVC (Academic) Professor Kevin McConkey, Professor Terry Lovat and the Head of the Conservatorium which resulted in Colin Spiers, a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Music being commissioned, on behalf of the University, to write a special choral symphony for Newcastle’s sesquicentenary of local government celebrations.

Composer Colin Spiers
Composer Colin Spiers at the performance of A Slender Strand of Memories

The symphony is a commemorative work evoking an emotional response to a great city’s past by linking this to our common, present aspirations and hopes for the future. It uses text that comes from various periods of Newcastle’s history.

One text in particular that features in the work is Charles Holmes’ diary (1889) that was donated to Cultural Collections a number of years ago by local historian Wendy Swan. I’m sure she, as well as Charles Holmes himself, will be thrilled that it has now made it into a symphonic and choral work celebrating Newcastle.

A Slender Strand of Memories was performed by a 64 piece orchestra comprising University of Newcastle music students and professionals and a 160 voice choir comprising the Newcastle University Choir, the award winning University of Newcastle Chamber Choir, the University of Newcastle Student Choir, and the Callaghan Childrens Choir.

The gala concert in Newcastle City Hall on Sunday, November 1, 2009, at 3:00 pm, was the Symphony’s Australian and world premiere. It was a mesmerising performance.

World Premere of A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers
World Premere of A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers

It was a real joy to experience, and stands as a once in a generation experience that we were proud and honoured to be a part of bringing to creation for Newcastle.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist and Chair – Coal River Working Party


4 thoughts on “World Premiere – A Slender Strand of Memories by Colin Spiers

  1. Hey Colin – just listening to your wonderful ‘piece’…
    will the whole performance be available on CD ?

    Cheers from sunny Brisvegas…
    p.s. Max said – good on ya bro

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