Humming Symphony

At the 2004 world premiere of Peter Sculthorpe's Requiem for choir and orchestra in Adelaide, the audience was respectfully poised for what was expected to be a masterwork from this father of modern Australian composition. What began to issue from the stage was suitably piquant, with cello passages that seemed to weep in waterfalls of sound. Then, in the second movement, something miraculous occurred. Walking slowly from the back of the hall toward the stage came a gentle giant of a man, his 1.9-m bulk wrapped around a hollowed tree trunk into which he breathed. Sculthorpe's music at once expanded, evoking...

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