October in the Chair (2017)

Flute, Oboe, Harp, Violin, Viola, Cello

Duration: 8 minutes | Composed: 2017 | Commissioned by Inventi Ensemble (Melissa Doecke and Ben Opie) | World Premiere: Melbourne Recital Centre July 3rd 2017 | Recording: Coming Soon.

Based on Neil Gaiman’s short story October in the Chair, this work parallels the whimsical yet dark undertones of what is essentially a Graveyard story. This particular tale personifies each month of the year into a group of twelve people who are having their monthly meeting around a campfire. The current month is Octobers to lead. After settling in and asking if anyone has a story to tell (which no one does, that hasn’t been told before or is substantial enough to tell fully), October begins to tell his. I won’t recall it all for you here, but a very brief and cruel summary would be that a young boy, named “The Runt”, runs away from his family who treats him poorly. He meets a ghost in a graveyard and decides that he’d prefer to die and stay with the ghost (who played with him kindly all afternoon) than return to his family. Sad? Yes. However the way it is told and the setting portrayed by the months has an unmistakable playfulness full of animated conversation and characters. This composition focuses mostly on those characters, leaving a centered ‘serious’ section of the music for the dark reality of “The Runt’s” situation. It doesn’t last long though as the momentum picks up again into the final moments of the piece. Another interesting consequence of this work was my recent aural saturation of lullabies and music set heavily in major tonalities, due to the birth of my son and my daily efforts to get him to sleep with calming ‘classic’ baby music. Unaware of how much I’d absorbed of those pretty little tunes, the writing of this work once again revealed my susceptibility to what I listen to!