Harry Sdraulig: Beyond the ridge, the ranges far

Featured composer

Portrait of Harry Sdraulig, taken outside
Harry Sdraulig, Australian composer
Harry Sdraulig is a prolific Sydney-based composer and educator.

His music – at turns serious, playful, contemplative, or exuberant – is characterised by its passionate melodic lyricism, harmonic richness, and intricacy of rhythmic interplay and drive.

In recent years, Harry’s work has risen to prominence through a string of commissions and performances by Australian and international arts organisations including the Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland, Tasmanian, and Canberra Symphony Orchestras, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Goldner, Orava, and Australian String Quartets, Musica Viva Australia, the Australia Ensemble, the Australian National Academy of Music, PLEXUS, Syzygy Ensemble, Ensemble Three, and Ensemble Q.

His Fantasia on Waltzing Matilda, commissioned by Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott and released by Sony Classical, is widely performed and broadcast internationally, whilst his piccolo concerto for Lloyd Hudson and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Icarus, was a finalist in the Large Ensemble category of the 2020 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards.

Beyond the ridge, the ranges far

Commissioned by  Gisela Püllen and Karl Gordon, and dedicated to Gisela

Beyond the ridge, the ranges far, for solo cello and orchestra, was commissioned by Gisela Püllen and Karl Gordon, and dedicated to Gisela. In recent months, I have visited Karl and Gisela – both long-term supporters of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra – at their home in Canberra to discuss the piece and involve them closely in the process of its creation. In our early conversations, I learned much about their shared love of hiking and the outdoors. In particular, I was struck by how the exploration of mountains has been a common thread in their travels and experiences of nature around the world. The sense of grandeur and majesty that mountains evoke was a strong source of inspiration for Beyond the ridge, the ranges far, the title of which was developed in collaboration with Karl.

Conceived as a tone poem rather than concerto, the piece begins with a single pulsing tone – an A – from which a melody begins to emerge, played by a solo oboe. After an initial flourish the cello soloist enters, interweaving with woodwind and percussion lines and growing in confidence and expression. As the music progresses, each climax signifies another peak in the range, and each trough a valley. Towards the end, a broad and unashamedly simple cello melody sings above a hushed string texture as a sense of solace and warmth is finally achieved.

© Harry Sdraulig, 2023

Related Articles

Skip to content