Fairweather Prize

Sydney Conservatorium of Music – Centenary Commissioning Project
World Premiere on 2 May, 2013 at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Non-Traditional Research Output (IRMA, The University of Sydney, 2013).

TAʻAROA, an eight-minute piece by Geoffroy Colson, for nonet (Trumpet, French Horm, Trombone, Tuba, Alto Sax, Baritone Sax, Piano, Bass & Drums), is the winning piece of the 2013 Fairweather Prize.

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music celebrated its 2015 centenary with a unique program to commission a substantial portfolio of new compositions. The new works demonstrate the Sydney Conservatorium’s commitment to excellence in contemporary music and its vision to support and enhance the musical experience in the wider community.

A broad range of international and Australian composers have been commissioned to produce works that embrace a range of styles and musical genres.It is hoped that this body of new work will make a substantial contribution to contemporary music performance, creation and research, and inspire the next generation of composers.

Scores, instrumental parts, recordings, program notes and interviews, are housed in the Sydney Conservatorium library for the benefit of performers, scholars and the general public.

Encouraging young student composers is an important priority, made possible through the Fairweather Family Prize for Student Composers. The winning piece, Taʻaroa, has been included in the official listing of the Centenary Commissioning Project.

Taʻaroa
for nonet

Mai te huoro ra te paʻa i roto i te aere a ʻohu noa ai, ʻaore raʻi, ʻaore fenua, ʻaore tai, ʻaore marama, ʻaore rā, aore fetu.1.

In the Tahitian cosmogony, Taʻaroa was the primordial god; he developed himself in solitude and made everything.

Conceived as a succession of eclosions, the creation myth confers a central role to the symbol of the egg. Similarly, the Polynesian conception of the space-­time framework is circular and not linear, Man facing the past and having the future behind him.

Following symbolically the Polynesian myth and the concepts of the egg and the circle, Taʻaora illustrates the first two stages of the Creation, giving birth to the sky, then to the earth.

Inspired by works of Western jazz ensembles from Gil Evans to Ping Machine, the composer introduces and interprets elements from traditional Tahitian music: rhythms like the pehe Toma (usually introductory and concluding rhythm pattern) and Manu (linked to the importance of the figure of the bird in the Tahitian symbolism), melodic fragments derived from the hīmene 2, and compositional processes like pedal points, ostinatos, and parallelism.

This work is an attempt to contribute to the creative exploration of musical syntheses as a response to the threat posed by globalisation in the Pacific, and aims at developing new cross-­cultural collaborations.

  1. The shell was round like an egg, and revolved in the infinite space, without sky, without land, without sea, without moon, without sun, without stars. Teuhira Henry (1962) Tahiti aux temps anciens. p.344. Musée de l’Homme: Paris []
  2. Choral Tahitian songs, often of religious nature []