eternal silence…infinite spaces

Instrumentation 2/2/2/2; 2/2/0/0; 2 perc; harp; orchestral strings
Percussion requirements (1) chimes, glock, snare dr, sm. bass dr., cabasa, castanets, bell tree, brake dr, sandpaper blocks, ratchet, 3 tamtams (s/m/l); (2) vib, glock (share with 1), snare dr (share with 1), lg. bass dr, susp. cymbal, sizzle cymbal, 2 temple bowls, 3 woodblocks (h/m/l), 3 temple blocks (m/m-l/l), triangle, whip, watergong

Timing 12′

Composed 1997

Commissioned by Esprit Orchestra with the assistance of the Laidlaw Foundation

World Premiere February 22, 1998, Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto, Ontario. Esprit Orchestra; Alex Pauk, conductor

Programme Notes

Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie (The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me) is the title of an etching by the French symbolist artist Odilon Redon. Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution had recently been published, challenging a fundamental belief in creationism, the role of the Church in people’s lives, and even the very existence of God. Redon’s image explores this evolutionary theme. He depicts a proto-human at the top of a peak in a barren wasteland. It is clearly about to rise from all fours to assume an upright position; at the same time its face is raised heavenward, looking towards the sun, but the sun is obscured by clouds. The figure is completely alone. Evolution has replaced salvation.

eternal silence…infinite spaces is inspired by this image, and musically explores the possibility of reaching out to heaven and finding nothing there. As our deepest-held beliefs are shattered by the utter silence of nothingness, our breath sharpens and our hearts pound in our ears. In a terrible moment, time comes to a grinding halt. Profound terror is transformed to panic in a macabre dance, which then turns to emptiness and loss as the world we once knew drifts forever out of reach.

eternal silence

Reviews

The music seemed to emerge from near nothingness, whispers of sound in the strings as well as subdued vocal sounds emitted by the players proceeding toward aggressive climaxes, a harp making sounds reminiscent of the theme music from The Twilight Zone along the way. … [He] writes in an effective, accessible style, making eternal silence…infinite spaces easy to follow. (William Littler/Toronto Star)

PDF score excerpts

Eternal Silence excerpt

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