Nura for flute and piano is an example of the instantly recognisable style of Ross Edwards, one of Australia’s best-known composers. Following a stylistic crisis brought on by an early fascination with European atonality, Edwards developed an individual language after a period of isolation in the Yorkshire countryside. In this language he draws on birdsong and insect drones against a backdrop of his belief in the connection of music with elemental forces and aim to depict music in its original context of ritual and dance. Within this, Edwards’ music displays two main styles. The first is meditative and serene, suggestive of Indigenous Australian and Asian music in its stillness. The second is often referred to as the maninya style, a word formed by Edwards from a collection of syllables he observed to mean “dance-chant.” The maninya style is rhythmically vibrant and strongly tonal with earthy undercurrents
Nura was commissioned by Dutch musicians flautist Eleanore Pameijer and pianist Marcel Worms for their Six Continents project, in which composers from six continents were invited to write a piece expressing their views on cultural identity in an age of receding borders and globalisation. Edwards writes in the title page of the piece: “Nura means ‘place’ or ‘country’ in a language spoken by people living in the area that is now Sydney… I live near one of Sydney Harbour’s many bays and I often work in the Blue Mountains, west of the city. In Nura I have tried to capture the stillness of the mountains, arresting birdsong, mysterious insect drones and sensuous water sounds.” The piece is in three sections, Wild Bird Morning, Ocean Idylle, which Edwards describes as hinting of cultures neighbouring Australia, and Earth Dance, an example of the maninya style.