Angels born at the speed of light

Voice and instrumental ensemble, Collaborations, Dance

For narrator, dancer and improvising trio

Text by Cilla McQueen

Funded by Creative New Zealand, this work was given its first performance at the Trust Bank Theatre, Dunedin in 1992. The choreographer was Bronwyn Judge and the performers  were Judy Bailey (piano), Peter Adams (clarinet) and Russell Scoones (percussion).

About the work

Angels born at the speed of light is a collaboration between poet Cilla McQueen, Bronwyn Judge and myself. The dance, in and around a pool of water, involved 3 ages of women — as child, as woman (Bronwyn Judge) and kuia (Shona McTavish).

For some time, I had been interested in working with improvising musicians to provide a musical structure in which the narrative is always recognisable but the detail constantly changes.

I provided the framework and the basic material while the performers — in this instance narrator, piano, percussion and clarinet doubling saxophone — adapt the material and, within the framework, take it where they will.


The trio is scored for clarinet/saxophone, with improvised parts for percussion and piano. The clarinet part can be played on flute, and a vibraphone is optional.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Angels born at the speed of light — SOUNZ

A recording of the premiere performance made by RNZ Concert may be available from Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

Angels born at the speed of light — Ngā taonga