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A Symphonic Work in Four Parts by Mark Smerdon

For Sara

�Kulilya� (koo-li-lah), is the word used by the Pitjantjatjara People (Anangu) of Central Australia when they say �listen, learn, remember�. The composer currently lives with these people on their land. This is their story as he sees it.

I: The Dreaming

This is the story of the beginning. The beginning of the day starts the piece. Insects and small desert animals scurry before the baking sun emerges for the day. Then the sun rises in all its terror and majesty. This is the day of all time until now. This part of Australia is so old and unchanged from the beginning of time. Birds seek water, shade and shelter at the big rock, Uluru, the largest exposed monolith on the planet. All around is the pulsing heat and blinding red shimmering sand. There is a no hint of the changes about to befall this land and the people who live with it. Hints of the English national anthem and the song �Yesterday� can be heard like some discordant future memory. Meanwhile, all around, the heat continues and Mother Nature goes about her business.

II: The Gentle Island in the Sea of All Time

Australia is the largest island in the world floating in the largest ocean. Even so, it is a fragile land, a majestic land full of beauty and grandeur. It floats in this lost time eluding discovery by the world powers. Its people have not changed for tens of thousands of years.

III: Cultures Meet

When the Dutch, French and English arrive on this strange landscape they meet the oldest race on earth and neither people can find a way to blend happily. A way of life that has existed for thousands of years is lost forever. The land loses her custodians.

IV: So Many Questions

What will become of this ancient people? How will this land survive without them? Is a new harmony possible? Will these new people from so far away in time and place eventually learn and listen? Will Mother Nature win in the end? Is she telling us the answers, anyway?


Kulilya. Kulilya. Kulilya.

Thanks to Hardy Mertens, Sara Smerdon and, most of all, Kathy, for all the help and patience.

Score ID
Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
21 minutes
Classical music

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