Within The 39th Parallel (South) lies the New Zealand district of Whanganui and at its heart the Whanganui river – Te Awa Tupua.
This work is cast in two parts; Part 1, a musical evocation of the course of the river from Mount Tongariro to the sea, is constructed according to golden ratio proportions (the fundamental mathematical principle governing nature). Running in parallel a sequence of metrical modulations finds the tempo of the music increase incrementally over the course of the movement.
Part 2 – Apakura – (“Lament” in the Maori language) develops a theme previously hinted at in Part 1 but now fully realised. This “Home” theme is an elegy to the late Kevin Jarrett – a towering figure in the New Zealand music scene who for many years lived and worked in the town of Whanganui. The elegy includes references to music which formed a significant part of Kevin Jarrett’s musical experiences both as a New Zealand Army Band musician (echoes of the Urbach march Through Bolts and Bars) and through his long association with the National Band of New Zealand (hints of fellow countryman Sir Dean Goffin’s classic Rhapsody in Brass).
The work concludes with a reprise of the “Home” theme.
The 39th Parallel was commissioned by the Brass Band Association of New Zealand, in memory of the late Kevin Jarrett, with funds primarily provided by WNG Loan Finance & Investment Co; McDonnell Coleman Trust; Brass Whanganui; Riki & Rhys McDonnell; Jonathan Wallace; Graham Hickman; Ian & Denise Levien; and the New Zealand Army Band.