Rowen Fox has long held the ambition to write a major choral composition based on the life and work of Albert Morris, an inspirational amateur botanist and conservationist from early 20th century Broken Hill. Morris observed the devastation caused by shifting sands in the denuded landscape, and the detrimental impact this had both for residents of Broken Hill and for the local native flora and fauna. He pioneered the re-vegetation of the land to create a natural barrier to the wind blown sands and to bind the bare soil. Morris’ legacy extends well beyond Broken Hill having inspired regeneration activities all over Australia and further afield.
The Covid isolation of 2020 provided Rowen with an ideal opportunity to start work on this project and Phoenix Choir commissioned a number of chorusses from him. We started rehearsing some of these (by zoom) in late 2020 and in Term 2 of 2021 we are now back rehearsing together as a choir to pull together a concert of these early compositions. From what we can see so far the writing is unmistakably Fox – the lyrical, accessible writing which our audience has much enjoyed in his previous compositions – but with an infusion of broadway show-biz which adds to the dramatic impact of the music. Rowen is finishing off some additional chorusses and solo works, perhaps an instrumental overture, to make a rounded introductory concert for this work.
Timing and venues for the concert have yet to be fixed, so watch this space. It is expected that the concerts will be in July 2021.
The longer term aim is that this work will become a full Oratorio, and Phoenix Choir hope to have the opportunity to work with Rowen to premiere the full work, in due course.