Aue! is essentially a miniature tone poem drawing upon my experiences in Samoa. For three years we lived inland at Vaia’ata in Savai’i, Samoa. Often in the evenings you could hear sounds from the villages carried on the sea breeze – songs, dances, bells, drums – all filtered and transformed by the mists of the rain forest.
I think of this music as describing the walk we often took from Vaia’ata down the forest track to the village of Lano. Gradually the music becomes louder and more clearly defined until one steps out into the daylight in the midst of the village ‘fiafia’, or celebration.
The central theme is the old Samoan tune ‘Faleula E’, or ‘People of Faleula’. The second motif, which appears first on the saxophones, is inspired by the powerful sound of the conch shell which announces an important event, and the chant-like cries of competing orators. Hymns are sung at all social events and fragments of one hymn tune appear throughout the piece, while the predominant percussive rhythm, on log and tin drums, accompanies the ‘sasa’, a popular dance.
The word ‘aue’ (pronounced almost as ‘ow-WAY’) is a Samoan exclamation expressing strong emotion.
This music was commissioned by a consortium of symphonic bands and wind ensembles instigated and recruited by Timothy Reynish. It was first performed by the Wind Ensemble of Chetham School in Manchester in the Royal Northern College of Music under John Dickinson in March 2001.
Aue! has since had over 30 performance around the world. Some of the finest of these have been directed by Tim Reynish. There have also been many insightful and sensitive performances under the baton of Mark Heron whose ‘Aue! Guide’ may be downloaded on this page. There is much to like about the first performance featured here. It is from the disc, ‘Reflections’ from Klavier Records. John Boyd and the Philharmonia à Vent capture the elusive balance this piece requires.
There have also been particularly fine performances by the Florida State University Wind Orchestra directed by Kevin Droe and Laszlo Marosi. I have included a performance by this group.
Important note: it has come to my attention there are still extant sets of the inferior first edition of this piece. If the horn parts on page 1 do not have the direction ‘use fibre mutes’ you have this early version. Please contact Maecenas straight away for a free replacement.
Orlando, Florida, 2009
‘Aue!’ article by Mark Heron
“I appreciate the Ivesian concept of layering …. marvelous irony …. ” Charles Peltz
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble (or Symphonic Band)
1 Picc. 2 Fl. 2 Ob. 1 EbCl. 2 BbCl.1 BassCl. 2 Alt.Sax. 1 Ten.Sax. 1 Bar.Sax. 2 Bsn. // 4 FHn. 3BbTpt. 3 Tbn. 1 Euph. 1 Tba. // 1 Timp. 3 Perc.
Philharmonia à Vent, John Boyd, by kind permission of Klavier Records