A Strange Manuscript found in a Copper Cylinder (2016)

SSAATB Choir and Percussion Quartet

Duration: 20 minutes | Composed: 2016 (Commissioned by Synergy + VOX) | Premiered November 11, Independant Theatre, North Sydney Australia | Recording coming soon.

This work is based on the book by James De Mille, published in 1888, called A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder. There are actually two different stories occurring in the book, the first one following the four yachtsmen who find the copper cylinder floating in the ocean and begin to read through it, and then the story notated on the strange manuscript itself. The manuscripts story follows a main character, Adam Moore, as he becomes separated from his ship on a homeward voyage from Van Diemen’s Land. His journey takes him South through the Antarctic Circle and into another ‘lost’ world where Dinosaurs and pre‐historic humans still roam the land. The society he is taken in by also harbor a modern human woman, Almah. Adam very quickly comes to know this race, the Kosekin, and falls in love with Almah – which in turn causes a very distressing issue due to the customs and beliefs of these people.

The overall dilemma is that the Kosekin believe almost entirely the reverse of what Western society does about societal living. Some examples include that death is cherished rather than life – the highest honor is to be sacrificed and then consumed by the people. Paupers are the most highly regarded and powerful people of the population, whereas the rich are lowly. Love results in separation and sacrifice. The night and darkness is longed for (as their eyes are adapted to see better in the darkness), which for six months of the year the extreme tilt of the Earth accommodates for the Kosekin, each end of the season being marked by a massive sacrifice of willing people to celebrate.

This composition aims to capture several aspects of this book: the adventure, the unusual reversal of beliefs, the seemingly impossible romance between Adam and Almah, as well as the acute sense of time passing is as portrayed in the book.