Ross Edwards Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra

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​Steel City Strings feature​s Australian composer Ross Edwards’ Arafura Dances – Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra in the last program of 2018.

​Arafura Dances – Concerto for Guitar ​& Orchestra

​I. First Maninya
II. Arafura Arioso
III. Second Maninya

Ross Edwards

​Ross Edwards completed his Guitar Concerto in 1995 following a visit to the tropical north of Australia. He was a guest of the Darwin International Guitar
Festival and its Director, Adrian Walter.

One of the aims of this festival, which regularly attracted some of the world’s finest guitarists, was to create new and distinctive repertoire for the instrument.

To this end it followed an enlightened commissioning policy: Nonguitarists composers were encouraged to try their hand, often for the first time, at writing for the guitar.

The hope – perhaps the expectation – was that they would fall in love with the instrument and explore it in a fresh way.

Arufura Dances

Ross Edwards’ concerto, which over the years has acquired the subtitle Arafura Dances, is cast in three movements: a lyrical and expressive adagio framed by two of his familiar Australian dance/chants, or maninyas.

In these maninyas, you can hear fleeting references to a variety of musical cultures – Australian, South- East Asian, as well as the instrument’s traditional Spanish. Also wovent in is a fabric of insect rhythms and drones.

Musical influence

Edwards, clearly under the spell of Darwin and coastal Arnhem Land as he composed, refers to the turquoise Arafura Sea as a constant backdrop.

Other influences include flora and fauna of the region and the colourful Macassan sailing boats in Darwin’s Maritime Museum.


The concerto, dedicated to John Williams, was commissioned by the Darwin International Guitar Festival with assistance from the Australia Council.

The first performance took place on July 7, 1995 on the lawns of the Darwin Casino. John Williams was soloist, and Martin Jarvis conducted the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.

©Bernard Rofe



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The members of Steel City Strings are outstanding examples of hard work, enterprise, enthusiasm and dedication. They reach for the stars and beyond. More power to these wonderful people.

Richard Gill AO

In Debussy's Sacred and Profane Dances of 1904 the orchestra was joined by harpist Paulina Smirnov whose scintillating playing created a wonderful and subtly-nuanced centrepiece for the concert.


A fascinating program of works from various musical periods... The orchestra played with a strong sense of ensemble, and brought an infectious verve to the Mozart.



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