Kate Moore (April 2017)
Sacred Environment is and environmental statement about the power and fragility of nature. It is an oratorio venerating the sacred nature of the land and the story it tells. Each movement is named after the five elements, the trees, minerals, animals, stars and water, and like an evocation, the names of the native trees, plants and animals are chanted in latin as the main character, a blind-folded woman leads us into the bush. She is a mysterious character, a sybil, lady justice, Mother Earth herself, or a woman who has lost her way. Her character was inspired by depictions of Lady Justice holding a balance scale, the tarot card two of swords and the medieval religious icon of Ecclesia and Synagoga. She is symbolised by The Moon, the limbs of trees and the damp and fertile soil of a forrest.
It is the result of artistic research based on the ancestral lands of Yengo National Park in New South Wales, Australia, the traditional territory of The Wonnarua and Darkinjung people. This land informed the libretto, the imagery and subject matter of the piece.
The commission from The Holland Festival/ NTR for the Radio Philharmonic orchestra and choir implied the genre of an oratorio, a non-staged setting of sacred or religious narrative. This genre resonated with me because I wanted to illustrate that nature itself is sacred, as sacred as a Gothic Cathedral or any holy place of worship. The inclusion of the Didgeridoo in the line-up for the commission was the key to unlocking a path of questions leading back to the bushland of my family heritage, the aboriginal and colonial history of the area and the landscape and terrain in which they simultaneously existed. I chose the location because it is the place where my early European settler family, on my father’s side, became established and have lived in this region ever since. Originally the piece was going to be about the flora and fauna of the location but upon visiting the location, I discovered that it really was a holy place of worship for aboriginal historical tradition.
I would like to thank the following people who have contributed to the development of the piece – Nina Frankova, Marion Winkler, Trevor Wilson, Fiona Crain, Stuart McMinn, Leanne King, Phil Sheppard, John Shipp, Stuart Gibson, Rex Thompson, Nerida Moore, Chris Moore
I would also like to thank the following people who have contributed to the production of the piece – The Holland Festival, Robert Nasveld, NTR, Daniel Reuss, Brad Lubman, Lies Beijerinck, Alex Oomens, Ruben van Leer, Clare Gallagher, Arno Peeters
I wish to acknowledge the custodians of this land, the people of the Wonnarua and Darkinjung nations and their Elders past and present. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this region.