Flower Songs is a choral maninya (dance/chant). Its text consists of the scientific names (in Latin and ancient Greek) of a selection of central eastern Australian wild flowers. Ross writes: Jonathan Mills once summarised my attitude to word setting as being “averse to texts that are philosophical, psychological, dramatic or descriptive (and) only interested in ones that allow (him) to invoke some kind of timeless spirituality in setting them to music … (His) essential vocal style, most evident in the vocal maninyas and Flower Songs, is characterised by modified repetition of rhythmic patterns centred on drones – a sort of hypnotic incantation.”
These pieces are dedicated to Nicholas Routley who commissioned it, with Australia Council assistance, for the Sydney Chamber Choir. The work is in two movements: the first vigorous and ecstatic; the second hazy and dream-like.
The YouTube video contains an excerpt from the faster first movement, performed by the Sydney Philharmonia’s Chamber Singers.