Time steps out of line

Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

For baroque ensemble

Time steps out of line was commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand for the brilliant young players of Juilliard 415 for their 2020 New Zealand tour. The premiere was given by them, conducted by Kyle Ritenauer, at the Gallagher Auditorium in Hamilton on 27 February 2020.

About the work

Time steps out of line is in a single movement but passes through various moods and tempi.

Writing for a baroque ensemble today is a very different challenge from that facing the composers of the Baroque, who were discovering the possibilities and sonorities and delights of their new evolving medium, producing a perfect and varied repertoire in the process. I did not want to imitate the music of the baroque era, and decided to give solo roles to some instruments, particularly the wind, less featured as soloists in the ensembles of the time.

The title is a quotation from Claire Beynon’s poem At home in Antarctica’ and refers to the approximately 3 centuries between my piece and the others on the programme. While writing it, I found suggestions of harmony and gesture from earlier times were creeping into the fabric of the piece.


Time steps out of line is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, bassoon, theorbo, harpsichord and strings.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Time steps out of line — SOUNZ

Time steps out of line was filmed as part of SOUNZ’s Resound project.

Time steps out of line — video

RNZ Concert recorded the performance.

Time steps out of line — audio


SOUNZ interviewed me about this work before the premiere.

Gillian Whitehead on ‘Time steps out of line’ and ‘Weaving time and distance’ — publication