Home Thoughts from Abroad, unlike the Browning text, from where the title is taken, is not the work of a dissatisfied traveller longing for his homeland, but of one who loves both where he is and where he came from, of one who, amidst the strong influence of European culture, looks back on important New Zealand elements which shaped his thinking.
The basic ideas, a slow introduction and a rather flippant allegro (53"), are taken from my recent work and used as a framework for the New Zealand thoughts: a fragment of a Karanga (the call onto the Marae) sotto voce from a solo horn (2'14") — as if heard from afar, Korimako (the bellbird) from a solo flute (2'53"), Riroriro (the little grey warbler) from the xylophone (3'27"), and a more extensive section of a Whale Song first from the strings (4'07") and then from the whole orchestra (6'03").
There follows a return to the opening themes (7'04"), which are combined with some new ideas, to form the main climax. This rather dense texture suddenly opens to reveal a trombone-fragment from Douglas Lilburn's «Third Symphony» (7'43") followed by a repetition of the Karanga, now with full force from a solo trombone m(7'55").
The texture thickens again and the horns take over the previously flippant tune (8'37"), but with a feeling of greater urgency, and bring the piece to an end.
Kit Powell (1999)
I wrote this in response to a competition advertised from New Zealand, for an orchestral work for the Millennium. It was not selected for performance. One never knows why not—was it the title (stolen from Browning, but very appropriate in my case), was it the content or was it not spectacular enough for a Folk's Festival? I felt it was a good piece and that it had enough in it to appeal to a wide audience.
Now 20 years later I have revised the work keeping the form but making many big changes to the detail and giving it the subtitle: An Orchestral Overture.