Gillian Whitehead’s 2010 work, 'Tūmanako: Journey Through An Unknown Landscape', was inspired by her travels through Yunnan, China with its varied landscape of snow-capped mountains, rice terraces, lakes, and deep gorges.
Gillian says, "Just before writing the piece, I was travelling by car through Yunnan, glimpsing in passing scenes which were in part familiar and traditional, and in part slightly alien; there was no time to process what I was seeing. Similarly the piece exists in a series of ideas that are not worked through to any extent (although ideas do recur); this sense of journeying could perhaps be seen as a reflection of a journey through time and generations in Helen Kominik’s dedication of this piece to her great-grandchildren."
Tūmanako: Journey through an unknown landscape was commissioned by Helen Kominik for her great-grandchildren, Kate Fraser and Tom Fraser. The commissioning was through SOUNZtender, a project of the Centre for New Zealand Music Trust.
Tūmanako (hope) was the name given to the property where Helen Kominik was born and lived for thirty years.
As the pianist Diedre Irons, for whom Tūmanako: Journey through an unknown landscape was written, is interested in improvisation, two sections in the piece can either be played as written, or used as a basis for improvisatory elaboration.