Pleiades Visions

Movement I: Uluru


Aerial view of Uluru (Ayers Rock).  Image Credit: Wikipedia.

The opening movement of Pleiades Visions situates the listener in the landscape surrounding Uluru (Ayers Rock), a large sandstone rock formation located in the central desert of Australia.  It can be understood as a reflection on the experience of observing the Pleiades – and the spectacular Southern Hemisphere night sky – from the vast and remote landscape of the Australian Outback.  The musical materials comprising “Uluru” arise indirectly from a melody associated with the Pleiades from the Pitjantjatjara people, an Aboriginal group native to the area surrounding Uluru.  Like other Aboriginal peoples, the Pitjantjatjara believe that the world was created in the Dreamtime: a time-before-time in which totemic ancestors wandered the landscape, creating animals, natural features, and all aspects of human society.  In the Pitjantjatjara culture, the Seven Sisters are considered to be Dreamtime heroes.

“Uluru” opens with a passage reflecting the vastness of the Australian central desert and the mystical nature of the Dreamtime.  Following this expansive opening passage is a colorful section calling to mind images of the Pleiades themselves and the brilliant Southern Hemisphere night sky.  This section leads into a large toccata comprising the bulk of the movement; this toccata evokes the majestic rise of Uluru over the surrounding landscape.  The conclusion of “Uluru” reprises the opening material, now using full organ, reinforcing the movement’s depiction of the endless Outback landscape and brilliant desert night sky.

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