T he title The Enchanted Loomis remarkably poetic for a composer who, until quite recently, has tended to eschew extra-musical inspiration in his work. “I’ve always been rather suspicious of music based on poetry or short stories,” Carl Vine tells me as we discuss his newly minted Eighth Symphony. “It seemed to me a bit of a cheap trick.”

Vine’s Eighth Symphony, which the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra has commissioned and will premiere at the end of August under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, will be the composer’s first symphony in ten years – and it’s his only symphony to sport an evocative title. But while “the enchanted loom” sounds like it might have sprung from an ancient folk-tale, the concept was in fact coined in 1942 by neuroscientist Charles Scott Sherrington in his book Man on his Nature, as a metaphor for the brain.

“I’ve actually avoided writing music with a story to it for a very long time,” Vine says. “For most of my career I’ve just written pure music, no story, no poetry, no imagery, just music on its own – as Bach used to do.”

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