This colourful piece is programmatic, describing the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886 and the destruction of the famous Pink and White Terraces. A challenging piece, composed for NZ organist Martin Setchell who performed it during his 1999 world tour.
This piece was inspired by the famous Pink and White Terraces in New Zealand which were destroyed by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. The Pink and White Terraces were huge naturally occuring staircases, created by deposits of silica in crystallised form over many centuries. People came from all over the world to view the terraces, described as the eighth wonder of the world.
According to legend, there was a premonition of the disaster in June, 1886. While travelling across a lake near the terraces, some tourists and their Maori guide saw a mysterious canoe of Maoris nearby. They disappeared and were never seen again, and no reasonable explanation could be given for their existence. However, some local Maori took this 'spirit-canoe' as an omen. They were right. Before dawn the next day, Mt Tarawera erupted for five hours, destoying the Pink and White Terraces and killing 153 people. It was New Zealand's worst volcanic disaster of recorded times.
This organ piece attempts to incorporate elements of the story into its musical gestures. The big opening chords describes the might and force of Mt Tarawera. Then follow two quieter ideas, interrelated, which portray the gently bubbling beauty of the 'White Terrace' and then the 'Pink Terrace'. The eruption is heralded by low thundering trills on the pedals and sweeping upward runs on the keyboard. The main theme that follows is toccato-like and conjures up visions of wild panic among the people. This theme reappears on full organ at the climax, and the music gradually subsides. The Tarawera chords from the beginning return like a solemn chorale for the dead, and the music drifts off into the distance, like smoke from the crater.
Pink and White was commissioned by Martin Setchell with funding from Creative New Zealand, and was composed especially for the new Christchurch Town Hall Rieger organ. The composer is indebted to Martin Setchell for his advice and help with scoring for the organ.
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