In Greek mythology Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus and wife of Amphion, King of Thebes. She unwisely boasted to Leto about her many sons and daughters. Leto, who only had two children, Apollo and Artemis, was angered. As punishment Apollo slew Niobe's sons and Artemis her daugters. Out of pity for Niobe's inconsolable grief, the Gods changed her into a rock, in which form she continued to weep.
In this work for solo Oboe and tape, the solo Oboe takes the part of Niobe bitterly lamenting her murdered children. The tape, with the distant high voices and the slow tolling bells (and later gong), is intended to provide an evocative and descriptive accompaniment.
Niobe was commissioned by the Park Lane Group. The first performance took place at the Park Lane Concerts in January 1988.