What a rush. For a composer, nothing can equal the adrenaline caused by hearing his own work performed in public. On Saturday evening, Viva’s Boys and Girls Choirs sang my piece, Rat Milk, as part of their year-end concert. Having my own work played has always been exciting, but this time I was serving as both accompanist and composer. I had written myself a few tricky piano bits, but we stayed in time and in character, and the kids performed beautifully. Our conductor, Marnie Setka-Mooney, did an admirable job of leading the choir in concert, and preparing them in rehearsal. “Do it for Dave!”, she would say, as we hammered out harmonies and practiced our entries. They came through in the end, and delivered a great performance, which is the greatest gift they could have given me. So thank you, choir, and thank you, Marnie!
Why Rat Milk? It’s an odd title for a piece of music, but it is the name of an excellent poem by Victoria’s Poet Laureate, Linda Rogers. The poem tells a dramatic tale of survival, describing vividly the struggle of a mother rat foraging at night to feed her children. After a treacherous journey, she returns home safely. I chose to set this poem for the choir because of its message of love and hope, and also because it seemed like great material for the kids to sing. I think it sparked their imaginations and piqued their curiosity. In the end, the kids’ enthusiasm made all the work worthwhile. Our performance was a memorable end to a fun year.