OCTOBER 13 2017 - Symbioses + Elia Bosshard

Sarah Lianne Lewis Vöglein auf der Wiege (from I Dared Say it to the Sky) (2016)
for Soprano and Percussion

“As a composer, I have repeatedly found myself drawn towards nature. Perhaps it is the intrinsic need as an artist to find a quiet space to reflect, and rediscover one’s creativity. I dared say it to the sky sets three poems from Das Knaben Wunderhorn (‘The Boy’s Magic Horn’), which explore the theme of the natural world, and a person’s need to find solitude, which is disturbed by even the smallest of sounds of nature, such as birdsong and the wind.”


Tristan Coehlo As the Dust Settles (2011/revised 2017)
for Bass Flute and Vibraphone

The work’s title is inspired by the intense dust storm of late September 2009 on the east coast of Australia. I remember it casting an eerie but beautiful reddish haze over the city – it looked like a Martian landscape. The striking colours blanketed everything to the extent that you could barely see across the street. In the distance, interesting shapes and forms gradually revealed themselves through the dust and this is what the piece is about – unfamiliar, breathy, noisy sounds becoming more focused over time, gaining clarity, warmth and definition as the dust settles.

This work was originally written for bass recorder and vibraphone and premiered by recorder player, Alicia Crossley, and percussionist, Joshua Hill. This version for bass flute is a product of the collaboration between the composer and Lamorna Nightingale and exploits a range of unique qualities and colours of the instrument.


Jane Sheldon Poem for a Lost River (2017) WP
for Soprano, Flute and Percussion

This piece is a setting of Dunt: a poem for a dried up river by the British poet Alice Oswald. The poem was written after the poet saw in a museum a tiny Roman figurine of a water nymph, a work of art wrought not for mere decoration but to invoke rain at a time of drought. As Oswald writes in an essay about her discovery of the figurine, "If you’ve paid money for seeds or animals and you want to increase their worth by growing them on, then a water nymph is not some kind of a literary personification of water, nor is it a liquefaction of women, but it’s an effort, driven by absolute need, to make contact with something inscrutable."

Oswald's work is thrillingly musical, and this poem's music is in its urgent stopping and starting; the desperation, the "absolute need", of whoever commissioned the figurine is vivid in the text. My setting is full of very dry sounds from all three performers, fixating around single pitches, trying to collectively draw sound out of each pitch vein we tap.

Oswald is known for her wonderful recitations of her own work and I made the choice not to listen to her recitation of the poem until I'd finished writing the piece. Actually, at the time of writing I still haven't been able to bring myself to hear her version, but if you are as spellbound by the text as I am, I encourage you to listen to her recitation, which is easily found online. I bet it's electrifying.

The text is used with the generous permission of the poet.


Andy Ford A Walk to the Japanese Garden & Three Songs for the Lady Pan (from Learning to Howl, 2001)
for Soprano, Alto Flute and Percussion

Learning to Howl, Andrew Ford's song cycle for soprano draws on poetry from and about women across the centuries – from Sappho, Queen Elizabeth I and Christina Rossetti to Emily Dickinson.

Beat Furrer Auf tönernen Füßen (On feet of clay) (2001)
for Flute and Voice

‘About 20 years ago, the Austrian writer Friederike Mayröcker, who was celebrating her 75th birthday, asked “why don't we work together” and I adored her work very much. Before I always had the idea that “this text is already music. I can't add something. It's already a composition. It's all so delicate.” That's why I had difficulties working with her text. Then Auf tönernen Füssen was the first time I somehow had the idea that I could cut this text and the text should always be understandable. And it's a spoken text. And I just prolonged the language between those cuts. I worked between the spaces of the text… Also, the repetitions of fragments and the tempo of the text – sung or spoken, doesn't matter – they create structural possibilities to combine sound and meaning. Even if you work with the vocalisation there is also meaning…’

Bree van Reyk All the Things (2017) WP
For Three Musicians

A ‘triple threat’ is a performer who can act, dance and sing. Examples of famous triple threats include Judy Garland, Shirley Temple and Fred Astaire. All the Things is written for three musicians who must all play percussion, a wind instrument and sing. This concept was proposed by flautist Lamorna Nightingale who suggested I write a piece on this basis for our upcoming concerts with soprano, Jane Sheldon. When trying to think of text for the words, I thought it best to do as most songs do and focus on the subject of love. As such, All the Things is dedicated to my wife, Chloe.