Dean: Huntington Eulogy

Program Note

Brett Dean (b.1961)

Huntington Eulogy (2001)

The title (of this work) refers to the Huntington Estate winery in Australia, home of the annual Huntington Music Festival with which I’ve been happily associated since 1997. 

The first two movements relate to the natural features and beauty of the Mudgee region of New South Wales where Huntington is located. The opening movement, Nightsky, is characterized by a spacious, dark sense of mystery and awe, the cello outlining various harmonic motives against a sparse background of sounds drawn from inside the piano. The second movement, Swarming, is a reflection upon a specific occasion related to me where a swarm of bees bestowed an altogether more dramatic and foreboding quality upon the calm reflection of watching a summer sunrise. The final Elegy (for Jason) is a simple offering, something of innocence and consolation, written in memory of Jason Brodie (17.9.1980 – 17.6. 2001), a young assistant cellar-master at Huntington who, despite his failing health, retained an inspiring love of nature and an endlessly positive, ambitious and courageous spirit.

—Brett Dean

Brett Dean, composer/violist (London, England and Melbourne, Australia), combines his composing activities with a rich musical life performing internationally as viola soloist, chamber musician, and conductor with the world’s leading orchestras. He was a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for 15 years, before returning to Australia to concentrate on his growing compositional activities. Today his works are championed by conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Markus Stenz, and Daniel Harding, and he has received commissions from the Berlin Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, among other leading orchestras. In 2009, he won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for his violin concerto The Lost Art of Letter Writing. In June 2017, his second opera, Hamlet, was premiered at Glyndebourne Festival Opera to great acclaim, directed by Neil Armfield with libretto by Matthew Jocelyn and conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. His first full-length opera, Bliss, received a highly-acclaimed production by Opera Australia in Sydney, Melbourne, and at the Edinburgh Festival, and in a new production at the Hamburg Opera. His String Quintet Epitaphs has been performed at the Cheltenham Festival, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, and the Cologne Philharmonie. Brett was Creative Chair at Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Artist in Residence with Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2016-18), and has been in residence with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin since 2017. Brett’s music has been recorded for BIS, Chandos, Warner Classics, ECM Records and ABC Classics. Brett’s Viola Concerto has also been released on BIS with the Sydney Symphony, with Brett as soloist. A DVD of Hamlet has been released by Glyndebourne. Previous Yellow Barn Composer-in-Residence (2012)