Picnic at Hanging Rock Suite (2009)


  • Piano, with digital delay in movement 7 and pre-recorded accompanying track in movement 11.


c. 43 minutes

Creation Note

Parts of this work were composed during a two week artist residency at Bundanon, October 2008.  With thanks to the Bundanon Trust.


  1. Time I: in sonata form
  2. Waltz: St Valentine’s Day
  3. Nocturne: embroidery class
  4. Fugue: the Hypotenuse Road
  5. Time II: crossing thresholds
  6. Long Lost Lost: a dirge
  7. Totem Animals: metamorphosis: how many feet?
  8. Miranda: the college Muse
  9. Time III: dimensions of time
  10. The McCraw: the purity of numbers
  11. Into Nature: out of civilisation
  12. The Rock: eternal guardian

About the work

This Suite of 12 piano pieces was written in response to Joan Lindsay’s intriguing 1967 novel, one of my favourites of Australian literature. A posthumously and separately published “extra chapter” goes beyond the hauntingness and mystery of the original novel to deal with the dimensional structure of time and/or spirituality. The additional volume, The Secret of Hanging Rock (1987), includes commentary by Yvonne Rosseau, who identifies three dimensions, Time I, II & III, where engagement in the mortal ego-bound realm is most at Time I and least at Time III. These ideas have been explored musically and conceptually at length, while also recognising the flavours of the novel in its original form.

Another important aspect of the novel is that ideas about time have been explored in the context of the school experience of adolescent girls in 1900. I found myself comparing this with the 2001 film Donnie Darko, which explores ideas about time via the school experience of an adolescent male protagonist in 1988. While the music in the Suite mostly steers clear of references to the 1975 Picnic at Hanging Rock film score, the fragile and melancholy music scored for Donnie Darko, featuring piano, did influence aspects of this Suite.

P.P. 2011



Recording of 9. “Time III” by the composer.