Graeme Koehne Time is a River

Fitting our program featuring music dedications to mothers, is the chamber work Time is a River by Graeme Koehne. Written in 2010, this work for clarinet and string quartet is a moving tribute to his mother.

Graeme Koehne (b. 1956) is Professor of Composition at the University of Adelaide. He has been recognised for his contribution to Australian music with prestigious awards, including the Australian Government’s Centenary Medal (2001) and the Sir Bernard Heinze Award from the University of Melbourne (2004). He has long been a popular Australian composer with his repertoire for orchestra especially, having been performed world-wide.

A popular metaphor, ‘Time is like a river’, has inspired songwriters, authors and philosophers of old. As the quote goes, “Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.” 

Of his work Koehne described, “The string quartet is the ‘river’ pursuing its relentless course, by turns gentle, swirling, turbulent and free-flowing. The clarinet represents some form of persona – a soul, if you like – that is carried along by the flow of the strings, pursuing its own diverse range of characters: melancholic, reflective, playful, ecstatic, capricious, finally reaching a state of acquiescence or acceptance.”

Koehne also arranged Time is a River for solo clarinet and orchestra, which is featured on the CD Time is a River recorded by Paul Dean (clarinet) and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra (ABC Classics, 2015). The work was commissioned by Anne ArcusTerrey Arcus for performance by Musica Viva Australia.

This work will be performed by Ian Sykes (clarinet), Vanessa Tammetta and Sonia Wilson (violins), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan (viola) and Clare Kahn (cello) as part of our Songs My Mother Taught Me concert on Saturday 12 May6.00 pm at Christ Church Lavender Bay. Tickets available at or at the door.

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