Pepe Becker: Capricorn I: Pluto in terra

“I wrote this work with the underground, ominous, hidden nature of Pluto in mind – in relation to the astrological build up of energy created by the planetary ‘cardinal T-square’ which came to full force at the end of July 2010, with Pluto in Capricorn, Saturn in Libra and Uranus in Aries – and also in remembrance of those who suffered in the aftermath of the series of earthquakes which struck near Christchurch from 4th September 2010. The most devastating of them wreaked destruction through large parts of the city and surrounding suburbs on 22nd February 2011, claiming 181 lives and gravely affecting thousands more, and, at the time I wrote this, the aftershocks were still occurring with random inevitability… Some of the intervals used in the composition relate to the dates of these two earthquakes, some of the sound effects are intended to evoke both gravelly and murky qualities of slowly-shifting earth, and the (mostly) fixed mode reflects the ruthless, unstoppable nature of Pluto in the cardinal earth Sign of Capricorn, alongside the forces of Nature itself. Completed in the early hours of the first anniversary of the September quake, “Capricorn I: Pluto in terra” is written for (and dedicated to) Christchurch-based harpist extraordinaire, Helen Webby – herself a highly talented, hard-working Capricorn.”
Pepe Becker studied Composition at Wellington’s Victoria University, 1985-1987, tutored by Jack Body, David Farquhar and Ross Harris, graduating with a BMus. Whilst at university she was active as an oboist, singer and composer; one of her first-year compositions won third prize in the 1985 VUW Composers Competition, and a third-year choral work, Wind and Rain, was performed by the VUW Chamber Choir at the 1988 Sonic Circus and by Cantoris in 1990. Pepe then focused on singing and teaching, travelling to Britain and Holland (1991-1993) to further her studies of early music, and in 1994 she founded her own vocal consort, Baroque Voices. Being a singer, Pepe has a special affinity for vocal writing. Much of her chamber music includes voice(s) but she has also composed pieces for solo piano and organ. Her works have been performed both in New Zealand and abroad, and her recent compositions include: Introit, commissioned by the Choir of Wellington’s Cathedral of St Paul and performed by them in Britain & Ireland in 2002; several works written for and premiered by members of Baroque Voices and various instrumentalists, 2005-2010 (two of them commissioned with Creative NZ funding, one selected for performance at the 2009 ISCM World New Music Days festival in Sweden), and a work commissioned by harpist Helen Webby with funding from Creative NZ.

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