4 Hours in a Holding Pattern
for orchestra (1997)
3 (picc.).3 (cor).3 (bass cl.) .3 (contr.) pno/cel, timp+2 strings
duration: 8’
GRT • 040

score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
Contrary to visions of a delayed landing approach from hell, the title 4 Hours in a Holding Pattern actually refers to a uniquely wonderful flight from St. Petersburg to London. Taking off at sunset, the plane impossibly follows the sun and lands four hours later, still in sunset. A dark horizon of deep orange, red and purple lasting as long as the fully staged version of Tristan und Isolde is something I may never experience again (the latter gratefully...). Thanks extended to BA for a window seat and the economy-class food offering.

The main theme (a jazz tune I wrote ten years ago) gradually forms out of simple motivic fragments. The sections of the orchestra are contrasted against a minimalist ‘holding pattern’ - six bars of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4. Occasional forays into 6/8 create a half-time feel with ambiguous re-groupings of the musical material.

This piece is dedicated to Brenton Broadstock, a good friend and composition teacher of many years. Brenton is the best orchestrator that I've ever met and I hope that this piece might serve as testament to the time we spent working on my music (eight years in holding pattern?). It took that long for the ‘fibonacci king’ to finally persuade me to try my hand at a formally proportioned structure built on the golden section.