Alice was written for Helen Medlyn and the Auckland Philharmonia while Gillian Whitehead was composer in residence. The first performance was given by Helen Medlyn and the Auckland Philharmonia, conducted by Miguel Harth Bedoya, on 17 July 2003 in the Auckland Town Hall. Alice won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award in 2003.
This recording sees the composition performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Taddei, with mezzosoprano Helen Medlyn.
In 1909, Alice Adcock, a lively and adventurous young woman from Manchester, was on her way to New Zealand. She was 23, and had recently developed TB, for which there was no cure. Somehow she persuaded her widowed father to let her travel alone to the other side of the world in case a healthy climate would save her life (it worked – she lived for another 50 years). This is the story of Alice, as a monodrama, with text by Fleur Adcock and music by Gillian Whitehead.
1-8. Alice, a monodrama for mezzo-soprano and orchestra.
1. On board the S.S. Fifeshire
2. Arrival in New Zealand
3. Father and daughter exchange letters
4. Alice discovers she is pregnant
5. The death of Alice’s father
6. The death of Alice’s husband
7. Alice’s return to the farm at Makaroa
8. Looking forward to a new life
9. Karohirohi – for solo harp and orchestra with Carolyn Mills, harp
10. The Improbable Ordered Dance – for orchestra