Australian composer James Ledger

News, Weather and Dreams
14 mins
3(III=picc).2.2(II=bcl).2(II=cbn)- I=xyl/3t.bells/sm tri/Tam-t; II=glspl/2bongos/tamb/3susp.cym/lge Tom-t/hi-hat(shared with 3); III=vib/sm Tom-t/lge BD/hi-hat-strings

Premiere: 21 September 2014
Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Melbourne
Monash Academy Orchestra
Fabian Russell, conductor

Play sample

Movement 1

Movement 2

Movement 3

New Weather and Dreams, performed by The Monash Academy Orchestra, Fabian Russell, conductor

Courtesy of the Monash Academy of Performing Arts


Ever since the dawn of 24-hour news broadcasts, we have been constantly bombarded with instant information on world events. Overall, this is a good thing. When I was young, it could take up to a whole day to watch or hear about what was happening in the world. (This must still be to the chagrin of daily newspaper editors when stories break moments after the paper has gone to print.)

Because news is now overwhelmingly ever-present, it can provide a warped sense of reality. It can be a bit like watching a soap-opera in that it often takes a long time for a story to progress. There has been an outright flooding in sensationalism and over-reporting of events from the small and trivial to despairing tragedies. It is from the dismay I felt when watching the news recently that this piece was borne. Although the piece is not meant to be pessimistic, just hopeful.

Most television or radio news themes are based around some rhythmically driven motif, designed to capture our attention. There is also the “newsflash” which once upon a time, interrupted a regular television service for some breaking news. This particular news music was often based around an urgent and agitated sounding Morse code-like motif. And it is this idea that starts News Weather and Dreams.

The piece opens with a veiled rendition of a Morse code figure – players blow into their instruments, but without pitch, only air noise. The figure begins to assert itself until there is a full-blown outburst of the fragment, overlapped throughout the orchestra to produce one cacophonous “newsflash” moment.

Whilst all the energy and perhaps, nostalgia of the ghosts of news-themes past is ever present in the work, there are extended moments of introspection. Sometimes these moments are whittled down to silence, offering up spaces of reflection.

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