My latest work  To the Waters Abovewas commissioned by the Canberra Symphony Orchestra for the first of their Australian Series concerts for 2022. I was delighted to find out that the concert I was writing for would be titled Stargazers and would feature Australian works exploring the night sky, astronomy and all things celestial.

Jakub Jankowski

For me, the challenge was how to musically depict the night sky for an ensemble line-up of flute, clarinet, percussion, piano and string quartet. I attempted a number of different approaches to translating ‘the stars’ into music, ultimately settling on a simple, poetic and less literal depiction.

The title reflects my musical approach and gives the trajectory of my work a ‘mythic’ flavour. In many ancient cosmologies, the firmament of the sky is thought of as a vault which separates the waters above from the waters below. The ‘waters above’ – as mentioned in the title – are fully revealed in a surprising way only at the conclusion of the work. I wanted the work to have the feel of a voyage upwards, which is something I describe...