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Manta (2023) 5'40

(Orchestra and youth chamber string orchestra: / / T / Strings + Youth string orchestra)

Commissioning note

Commissioned by SOUNZ for Orchestra Wellington and Arohanui Strings

Programme note

During the summer months, oceanic manta rays swim in the seas around Aotearoa New Zealand, especially in the Outer Hauraki Gulf Tīkapa Moana – Te Moananui-ā-Toi. They are known for their intelligence, enormous wingspan, and graceful, acrobatic movements through the water. Manta rays must keep moving to stay alive, and will perform somersaults in order to stay in one place to feed on clouds of krill. They are usually solitary creatures but will come together in areas where there is plenty of food before going on their separate journeys. So little else is known about manta rays that it is unclear whether they are present in Aotearoa year-round or migrate here only in the warmer months.

In Māori mythology, whai are often portrayed as kaitiaki, in writing Manta, I was inspired by Wiremu Grace’s story Whaitere about an enchanted stingray who visits her parents in the underworld before returning as a kaitiaki of the sea.

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