Maria Grenfell

Welcome to the website of Maria Grenfell, composer. 


And the Air Was Dancing is a three-movement work for solo trio comprising flutes, violin and viola, with string orchestra. Commissioned by the Ivy Street Ensemble, their flutist asked me to write a piece for her to showcase her skill in playing flute, alto flute, and piccolo. It struck me that the colours of the three different flutes could be cast as different uses of air and this led me to see if I could illustrate varying formations of air through music. The first movement is called Murmuration, and is a response to the formations of birds, usually starlings, that flock together in the sky, making incredible patterns of shapes and shadows, twisting and turning through the air and seeming to move as one. The second movement, Aurora, showcasing the alto flute, takes its title from the light patterns created in the darkness by the aurora australis in my part of the world, or the aurora borealis in the northern hemisphere. “Auroras occur when fully charged particles burst from the sun, creating a solar wind. This solar wind is drawn to the North and South poles, producing nature's finest light show.” (Alice Hansen, The music aims to portray the depths and range of colours produced by the aurora, with occasional flashes of light causing the sky to appear as if it is on fire. The third and final movement, Sun-dance, with piccolo, gives the impression of sunlight dancing off water, with sparkles of light darting in all directions. The piece treats the solo trio as a group, with each instrument taking turns to feature its own virtuosity and distinctive characteristics. I am grateful for the opportunity to write for such an exciting group of musicians.  And the Air Was Dancing was commissioned by the Ivy Street Ensemble, Denver, Colorado, USA, with assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts.

Instrumentation: flute (doubling piccolo and alto flute), violin, viola, strings