Chiasma for orchestra (2017)

Commissioned by Gewandhausorchester, financed by Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung
WP: 15.03.2018, Leipzig (DE), Andris Nelsons (conductor), Gewandhausorchester

Orchestra instrumentation

3(, 3.pic&afl).3(, 3.bcl).3(3.cbsn)-, 2xyl, vib, tub bells, kalimba, steel pans, water gong, sus cym, tri, b.d., s.d., 3bng, 2temple blks, spring coil, thundersheet, 4 sand blks, suspended paper)-acc.pno-str(

Programme note
A chiasma, the symbol in the form of the Greek letter X (= chi), is defined as either “an anatomical intersection”, for example the optic chiasma is the crossing of the optic nerves in the brain, or within a genetic context a “a cross-shaped configuration of paired chromatids”.
It is this crossing over and the resultant pairing of different components that reminds me of the method I have used over many years in my music, in which heterogeneous elements are juxtaposed and brought into a relationship that alters the individual components, in some cases bringing them together into a single unity.
This piece develops out of several very simple motifs, quickly evolves in disparate directions through the juxtaposition – “confrontation” – of these motifs, and achieves a distinct dramatic “double-peak climax” before collapsing into itself. These are precisely the primordial elements of composition (and above all of the symphony): confrontation, development and synthesis.
In a way, this work has turned out to be a compressed micro-symphony. The special challenge I posed myself in its composition was to develop a piece within the period of 10 minutes containing the entire world, at least ONE whole world in its disparity, with its murderous amplitude, its tenderness and beauty, and its brutality and futility.

Thomas Larcher