/ Dec 2015
There are two ways of looking at The Firework-Maker's Daughter, David Bruce's 2013 adaptation of Philip Pullman's novella. The first is as a model of how to conjure in sound an unspecified location in the Far East, and pace a children’s adventure with pirates, supernatural beings, a love-struck elephant, comedy, peril and pyrotechnics. The second is as a lesson in what opera, as opposed to music theatre, can do and how it does it.
Bruce's sophisticated, sympathetic score is packed full of coloratura and melisma, patter song and parody (of Wagner and bel canto). With percussion drawn from bhangra, gamelan and Chinese opera, and string, woodwind and accordion writing that shimmies across central Europe, it's a touch of genius that the hit song of the show, On a Night Like This, is scored for the simplest resources: a cappella voices, clapping hands and stamping feet.
/ Dec 2015
The immensely likeable cast play a large part in its success, as does David Bruce’s economic score - which, mirroring Pullman’s non-specific exotic setting, enchantingly combines eastern influences (pentatonics and gamalan timbres) with Western folksiness (an accordion supplies a salty tang). Conductor Alice Farnham and Chroma ensemble ensure plenty of zip.
In marked contrast to panto hysterics, the gentle humour of The Firework-Maker’s Daughter offers genuine laughs around a core of substance, while its inventive, attractive, through-composed music and splendid un-miked voices provide a great introduction to opera for young people.
/ Dec 2015
Musically the whole thing works a treat, thanks to glorious singing by Fagan, and to the playing of the Chroma ensemble under Alice Farnham’s direction. Bruce’s instrumentation, dominated by marimbas and strings, creates a welcoming musical world.
/ May 2015
The evening closed with a relatively new work from 2010, David Bruce’s “The Eye of Night.” Each of its four gentle and melodic movements is “a kind of nocturne,” says the composer, inspired by the sight of the night sky. Melodic and darkly luminous, it moved along with an air of dreamlike mystery before closing in a delicate, peaceful lullaby. A wildly enthusiastic ovation brought the trio back for a full-throttle arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” — pure fun, from a talented young ensemble.
Sydney Morning Herald
/ Apr 2015
Drawing on the experience of black miners in apartheid era South Africa, Gumboots is composer David Bruce's recent inspirational work for string quartet and clarinet.
In a terrifically exciting performance Griffiths and Bogosavljevic were joined by violinists Elizabeth Sellars, Paul Wright and violist Christopher Cartlidge. In two parts, the opening exploits the beautiful tones of the bass clarinet in its upper registrar accompanied by spare open strings, which unfolds into a moving evocation of the human spirit in adversity. The second section is a series of five ever more frenetic African-inspired dance movements whose joyous polyrhythms reach an incredible high-energy peak for Griffiths in the race to its conclusion.
San Diego Story.com
/ Jan 2015
Fragile Light selected as one of the musical highlights ("Bravos") of 2014.
"San Diego Symphony ...scored in December with their commission of David Bruce's Violin Concerto Fragile Light, beautifully executed by soloist Gil Shaham and conducted attentively by Music Director Jahja Ling. An atmospheric, meditative work with a sophisticated minimalist orchestral component, 'Fragile Light' eschewed vapid pyrotechnics but offered significant emotional reward."