5pm, Sunday 23 June, 2019

Drill Hall, Melbourne


Star Trek Through the Years (1996)

arr. Calvin Custer (USA)

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.

At its heart, Star Trek is about discovery, curiosity, exploration and courage. Spanning six TV series and thirteen films, the franchise has featured the music of many renowned composers including Jerry Goldsmith, Jay Chattaway, Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles) and James Horner (Avatar, Titanic). In this piece we hear themes from six different parts of the Star Trek franchise by six different composers, each with its own unique style and character.

Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) After an ethereal opening we launch into a sweeping fast-paced theme to accompany the Federation crew as they explore the galaxy.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) A distant fanfare grows ever present, before blooming into a majestic melody dominated by the brass section.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Inner Light (1995) Lyrical and singing, this theme starts humbly in the celli and bassoons before gradually building to a lush, full orchestra rendition.

Star Trek: Generations (1994) Rippling with energy this epic music uses the full power of the entire orchestra, again featuring the brass in a commanding fanfare-like theme.

Star Trek: Voyager (1995) In contrast, the theme from Voyager conveys all the poise, determination and dignity of the USS Voyager’s Captain Kathryn Janeway.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) The music from the earliest film in the franchise is march-like and brilliant with driving rhythms in the strings and woodwinds that propel the music forward, just like the star ship Enterprise.


Celestial Suite (2013)

James Stephenson (USA)

I. Copernicus (1473-1543) - Earth vs. Sun

The first thing I think it is important to mention is that there is no relationship to music of the time in this first movement of the suite. Instead, I decided to “shake it up” a bit, as that is precisely what Copernicus did. The strings play notes entirely bound by the music spelling of the word “EARTH”. They never vary from this and are stuck in this “tradition”. They symbolise the Catholic Church’s stance at this point in history - the earth as the centre of the universe. The solo oboe, however, plays entirely in the key of G. In musical terms, the key of G is also referred to as “Sol” - which of course is the Latin word for “Sun”. So therein lies the conflict of the oboe (Copernicus) going against the strings (the Church) and the clashing that occurs as a result. Although the accompaniment in the beginning is very “firm” the solo oboe upsets the rhythmic foundation, so that you as the listener are not sure where to listen for a solid footing. I also add a jazz element mid-way, which would have been completely jarring to the sacred world of the 15th/16t century, as another means of symbolising Copernicus’ revolutionary vision at the time. Noteworthy is that despite the mathematically inarguable discoveries of Copernicus, the church did not change its viewpoint, and this is reflected musically at the end as well.

II. Galileo (1564-1642)

1609 - Galileo makes significant improvements to the telescope.
1633 - Galileo found “vehemently suspect of heresy” by Pope Urban VIII

The first inspiration for this movement was the revelation that Galileo’s father was a lutenist and also a composer. This, combined with the fact that Galileo’s most famous contemporary composer, Palestrina (1526-1594), was also a lutenist. The violas, therefore, plays music reminiscent of Palestrina throughout, while the accompanying clarinet and harp play in the style of a lute.

Galileo’s findings in support of Copernicus’ helio-centrism were constantly under scrutiny by the church, and most especially when Pope Urban VIII (a friend of Galileo’s) was elected to the papacy. At times supportive of Galileo’s findings -even to the point of encouraging publications - and other times against (for political reasons), the music I have written symbolises the “dance” Galileo had to constantly endure with Pope Urban VIII in order to maintain his vocation.

Lastly, in honour of Galileo’s improvements to the telescope - the first and last systems of the score for this movement represent “score-painting” of a telescope.

III. Newton (1642-1727)

Newton’s 1st Law: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in uniform motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by external force.
Newton’s 3rd Law: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Based on the Bach chorale setting of “Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“How beautifully shines the morning star”).

Isaac Newton’s findings and his Principia lay the foundation for most of classical scientific mechanics as we know them. It is for this very reason that I knew I wanted the low instruments (tuba, double basses, celli) to lay the foundation for this movement. Newton also was a highly religious man, and for this reason, I wanted to base the movement on his most famous musical contemporary: J.S. Bach.

I was inspired by Newton’s first and third laws, quoted above. This therefore is perhaps the most complicated and mathematical of the five movements. In response to the first law. I decided to construct the music for the most part so that none of the accompanying instruments would move from their prescribed note until acted upon by “another force”. In other words, a player only changes their note, or pattern, when the note they are currently playing is touched upon by another player in the group. Once establishing their new pattern, they again become “inert” and cannot change until forced to by another. In the meantime, all of the solo low instrument material is based on the Bach chorale. Later, as the chorale is being stated in its original form I explore Newton’s third law. Swells are tossed back and forth between various groups of instruments to signify equal and opposite actions/reactions. The rest of the movement again investigates the first law as the chorale is played out.

IV. Hubble (1889-1953)

At this point in history many things have changed since Newton’s time, with regard to technology, information, and science. Therefore, I felt it OK to shift things a bit musically. My first inspiration, due to a fortunate coincidence, comes from Edwin Hubble’s name. It so happens that there is also a famous jazz trombonist named “Eddie” Hubble, who also played during the early-mid 20th century. I knew the trombone was the instrument I needed to feature in this movement, so that was a good start.

As in the Galileo movement this one also begins with a “score-painted” telescope, in reference to the famous space-telescope bearing the Hubble name. These opening measures launch us into a trombone cadenza, as a kind of “Big Bang” - a musical tribute to the theory to which Hubble lent great support with his findings about “red-shift”. The harmonies of the movement, which I set as a kind of ragtime (apropos to the time of Hubble’s career), are based on “When the Saints Go Marching In” - albeit in a minor key. Using a ragtime format was done deliberately for other reasons: early on, “jazz” was often called “the devil’s music” by the religious sect in its day. Yet many would specifically use “When the Saints…” as a dirge, or later uo-tempo, at religious funeral services, to both mourn and celebrate the life of the deceased. Similarly, the “Big Bang” theory is used by the church both for and against their arguments about the beginning of the universe.

V. Hawking (1942-2018)

“scientists have discovered the ‘Song’ of a distant Black Hole”

Admittedly, this movement is the least “religious” of the five, and this is indicative of my perceived impressions of Stephen Hawking’s faith (or lack thereof). Right around the time of beginning the composition of this movement, I discovered a publication indicating sound waves being detected during the process of matter collapsing into black holes. The resulting sound waves produced a frequency - if there could be eardrums there to detect them - that would resemble that of a low beating drum. The beating repeats, growing ever so slightly faster, until resembling that of a beating heart. (More on this later). In the mean time, the solo bassoon, alto flute and english horn play a lie that constantly reaches up, only to be dragged down - as the collapsing of matter… So too do the accompanying instruments move in and out of the texture, slowly driving downward to very low sounds - disappearing…

As the movement, and the piece, moves towards its conclusion the accompanying instruments get louder, as a “cluster” rather “nebulous” in tonality, searching for the answer to an unanswerable question, that very one which (I believe) scientist and theologists will never be able to answer.

For me, the answer lies in that aforementioned heartbeat. It is not how or why we are here, but the very fact that we ARE here, LIVING. That is what “matters” and should be enjoyed for what it is, to the fullest.

 Notes by James Stephenson


90 Minutes Circling the Earth* (1998)

Stuart Greenbaum (Melbourne, Australia)

90 minutes is the time it takes for a space shuttle to circle the earth. This piece is inspired by observations made by astronauts from various countries regarding what the earth looks like from outer space. Of particular interest to me was the notion of ‘sunset’ and ‘sunrise’:

The sun truly comes up like thunder, and it sets just as fast. Each sunrise and sunset lasts only a few seconds. But in that time you see at least eight different bands of colour come and go, from a brilliant red to the brightest and deepest blue. And you see sixteen sunrises and sixteen sunsets every day you’re in space. No sunrise or sunset is ever the same. - Joseph Allen, USA

I am fascinated by ‘alternative’ time-frames, and music can be an effective vehicle for bending normal ‘earth’ time. Consequently, my piece takes about 5 minutes to represent a 90-minute space flight that visually encompasses a full 24-hour earth day. The piece begins in the Night cycle, floating through immense blackness and isolation:

We entered into shadow. Contact with Moscow was gone. Japan floated by beneath us and we could clearly see its cities ablaze with lights. We left Japan behind to face the dark emptiness of the Pacific Ocean. No moon. Only stars, bright and far away. Very slowly, agonisingly, half an hour passed, and with that, dawn on earth. First, a slim greenish-blue line on the farthest horizon turning within a couple of minutes into a rainbow that hugged the earth and in turn exploded into a golden sun. You’re out of your mind, I told myself, hanging onto a ship in space, and to your life, and getting ready to admire a sunrise. - Valeri Rymin - USSR

The sudden event of Dawn ushers in the Day cycle:

We orbit and float in our space gondola and watch the oceans and islands and green hills of the continents pass by at five miles per second…the breathtaking speed of the ship is in odd and confusing contrast to the feel of perpetually floating within the spaceship…Are you speeding past oceans and continents, or are you just hovering and watching them move beside you? - Joseph Allen, USA

Finally comes Sunset:

The minutes of the evening twilight are fabulous. The hull of the station is lit by the golden rays of the sun. The daylight part of the earth, with its pink clouds and evening haze above the surface is still visible while our spacecraft is already sailing into the blackness of night. - Vladimir Vasyutin, USSR

During the writing of 90 Minutes Circling the Earth (subtitled “hymn to freedom”) I became and uncle, and the dedication of the work to my new-born niece, Megan, is reflected in the final observation:

When the history of our galaxy is written…if the planet Earth gets mentioned at all, it won’t be because its inhabitants visited their own moon. The first step, like a new-born’s first cry, would be automatically assumed. What will be worth recording is what kind of civilisation we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the Galaxy. Were we wanderers? Human history so far indicates we are indeed. It’s human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand. Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative. - Michael Collins, USA

Notes by Stuart Greenbaum

*Part of our Made in Melbourne Project featuring local composers.


Theme from E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial) (1982)

John Wiliams (USA) arr. James Ployhar

In 1982 Stephen Spielberg’s film E.T. surpassed Star Wars as the highest grossing film of all time, and held the title for 11 years (until it was overtaken by Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 1993). Ten year old Elliot befriends a stranded alien and helps him return to his home planet whilst evading the authorities. Whilst fleeing the government, E.T. jumps on the handlebars of Elliot’s bicycle and uses telekinesis to help them fly away - producing the iconic image of their silhouette against the moon. John Williams’ joyous Flying Theme is uplifting and celebratory, giving a sense of bubbling forward-motion combined with a feeling of being suspended, floating across the sky.


Moon Feather Magic (2011)

Elena Kats-Chernin (Sydney, Australia)

Founded by Melbourne doctor Catherine Crock, the Hush Foundation creates music to ease the stress on children in families in hospitals. Moon Feather Magic was written when 12 Australian composers were sent to adolescent health units in hospitals across the country to create music for the Hush Foundation’s 18th recording. Working with young patients, they created music that would soothe, calm and delight them in difficult times.

In Moon Feather Magic I wanted to create an air of lightness and optimism, hence there is much texture with plucked strings. The motifs are short and clear. There is a playful nod to Baroque, a style which I find calming. This piece sits at a time of the day when afternoon is ending and evening is beginning, just when the moon is starting to show its foggy light. And it gently leads into evening… - Elena Kats-Chernin


Space Oddity (1969)

David Bowie (UK) arr. Antonin Charvat

At age 22, the young singer David Bowie was yet to have a single make the UK charts. All that changed when he released Space Oddity just five days before the Apollo 11 mission launched - ten days before man landed on the moon. Though the BBC refused to play it until the crew had returned safely the song soon became a hit, initially reaching No. 5 in the charts. The lyrics perfectly capture the 1960s fascination with space - a complicated fusion of excitement, curiosity, fear and uncertainty:

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much she knows

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?


Suite from Star Wars (1977)

John Williams (USA) arr. Robert W. Smith

I. The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)/The Forest Battle from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi
II. Princess Leia’s Theme from A New Hope
III. Star Wars (Main Title)

Punch it, Chewy!


Conductor Ingrid Martin
Concertmaster  Teresa Wilkie

Piccolo Ella Tuncliffe-Glass
Flute Stephanie Lai, Elise Rodrigo
Oboe Skye Robinson
Cor Anglais Skye Robinson
Clarinet Kimberly Ho, Elizabeth Dedman
Bass Clarinet Liam Samat
Bassoon Chris Marchingo, Nicholas de Weger
Contrabassoon Phoebe Leggett,
Horn Susan de Weger, Claire McLean, Aidan Ratcliff, Ramona Downie-Berry
Trumpet Benjamin Sametz, Declan Ditchfield, Ryan Doherty
Trombone Allan Pennings, Rebecca McHeyzer, Angus Pace
Tuba Alicia Parry
Percussion Ardian Strybosch, Ben Ingvarson, Shayna Wescombe, Aidan Ritchie
Violin I Teresa Wilkie, Michael Patton, Vivian Cantera, Samantha Law, Connor Vincent, Siew-Ching Wan
Violin II Jackson Fumberger, Miriam Randles, Andrew Lin, Tamer Mikhaiel, Lucy McKenzie-McHarg
Viola Matt James, Mengfei Hu, Malavika Shridhar, Mariam Chung
Cello Zoe Frasnos, Charlotte Kube, Claire Oakley, Asli Ibrahim, Kiya van der Linden-Kian
Double Bass Jordan Tarento, Steve Hornby
Harp Adriana Richter
Piano Morna Hu

Decorations Asli Ibrahim
Audio Production
Bob Moody
Recording Engineer Thomas D’Ath
Front of House Marcus de Weger, Catherine Valeni, Cindy Homma
Beer Palling Bros. Brewery


President Susan de Weger
Secretary Matt James
Treasurer Alex Rosenfeld
Librarian Stephanie Lai
General Committee Teresa Wilkie, Mariam Chung, Mengfei Hu, Ramona Downie-Berry


Want to make great music like this with us? Contact Us


Loved our flight? Tonight's badass concert (and all our other musical adventures) cost time, love, passion and…money. Your donation will help us keep rewriting the rules of orchestral music in Melbourne. Every dollar counts!



Taken a selfie at the concert? Follow & tag us on Instagram @victorianyouthsymphony and share the love!
Like us on Facebook