ISLANDIA

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA & ELECTROACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS · 2017


{{ currentTime | hhmmss }} | {{ duration | hhmmss }} {{ currentTime / duration }}

Taking its name from the classic utopian novel by Austin Tappen Wright, Islandia starts with all the freshness, hope and apprehension you’d expect to feel upon discovery of a brand new civilisation.The pulse is fast, there’s tension and wonderment and the most glorious and strange flourishes in the strings and piano parts jump out unexpectedly both interrupting and enriching our journey. Islandia poses an important question to the listener: can we embrace and delight in these surprises or do they make us feel ill at ease? There’s a breath-taking prettiness and also a sense uncertainty. Dissonance creeps into the fringes of our vision. Is this landscape really as lush and fruitful as we think?

A change in tempo, frenetic ostinato piano, distortion and slightly ominous, almost military-style brass in the middle section suggest that all is not as it seems. Shifting rhythmic patterns, taking inspiration from Pacific island cultures, weave between and bounce off each other. Plucked and gasping strings make us feel breathless and troubled but still completely enthralled by this adventure. Finally, there’s a moment for us to catch our breath. A cello swells and sighs and an exquisite muted trumpet solo leads us home. It’s a sound as reassuring and transcendent as Yorkshire’s most beautiful rolling countryside. It’s the sound of home-cooked food and knitted tea cosies; a sound so intoxicatingly comforting we’re compelled to keep breathing it in, deeply, until we collapse into its wholesome embrace. But it refuses to hold us for long. Shadows form and linger over the sweetness of nostalgia and, as the strings fade, we inch towards an uncertain and dusky future.

Programme Notes by Elizabeth Alker · Broadcaster, BBC Radio 3.

1 TRUMPET C
3 PERCUSSION

crotales (C4-C6) · vibraphone (F3-F6) with bow · tuned gong (E2) · bass drum (approx. 40")

1 ELECTRIC GUITAR

with on-stage amplifier · EBow/EBow Plus · volume, reverb and delay signal processors

1 PIANO
STRING QUARTET
SAMPLER* SYNTHESIZER

*A polyphonic synthesizer of at least 6 voices may be used as an alternative instrument if provision of a sampler is not possible.

DURATION: c.10 MINUTES
PUBLISHED BY MUSIC SALES
ALDEBURGH, NOV 2015 (First Sketch)