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for String Trio, by Anthony Ritchie, Opus 194

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Programme Note

Childhood was composed for The NZTrio as part of the composer's research leave from The University of Otago, for performances in 2017 and beyond. The composer acknowledges the support and assistance of the performers in the trio, Justine Cormack, Ashley Brown and Sarah Watkins.

The piece reflects on different stages in life, and makes connections between our own childhood and that of our children, and indeed our grandchildren. Observing and relating to children is like a renewal of hope and wonder, that counterbalances the experiences and tribulations of adult life. Therefore, the style of the music is deliberately naive and simple, while also containing undercurrents of complexity.

An opening progression of a tone gradually expands and unfolds into dual pentatonic scales on the piano. The strings enter with a basic open 5th progression that grows into a short theme. This theme forms the basis for much of the material that follows, almost in the manner of a theme and variations. A third ingredient emerges: a chord progression that ascends on the piano. An ABAB structure is established leading to a climax, and a new variation on the main theme. This tantrum-like idea suddenly switches to a calming, neutral theme. This pattern repeats, and these two sharply contrasting sections alternate. The 'calming' idea eventually takes over and is developed. However, an echo of the tantrum-like idea sounds, with primitive, percussive progressions on the piano. The music's energy winds down, with violin and cello developing a soulful duo. There are reminders of earlier piano arpeggios before the child-like texture of the opening returns to end the piece.

This composition was supported by The University of Otago.

Dedicated to the NZTrio

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