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Economy of wax

Sheet Music: Performance Parts

Economy of wax : for soprano, flute/piccolo, viola and harp / music by Nicholas Vines ; text by Charles Darwin.

by Nicholas Vines (2009)

  • Purchase Price: $109.09 (Usually ships in 3-8 business days) — Add to Cart
  • Library Availability: This item is not available from the Australian Music Centre Library
  • Instrumentation: Soprano, flute/piccolo, viola, harp.
  • Audio Sample

    Performance by Adrienne Pardee, Stephen Drury, Jessi Rosinski, Derek Mosloff, Franziska Huhn from the CD Torrid nature scenes


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In 2010, as a celebration of the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of his Origin of Species, soprano Jane Sheldon and biologist/philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith commissioned a number of composers to set extracts from this landmark work for soprano and chamber ensemble. These pieces, known collectively as The Origin Cycle, were premiered on Apr 28th in the Harvard Museum of Natural History by Firebird Ensemble, with subsequent performances in Palo Alto, Halifax (Canada), Canberra and Sydney (Australia). My contribution, Economy of Wax, revolves around Darwin's meticulous detailing of how bees construct honeycomb. The music reflects this structure's intricate mathematics, most audibly its regularity through a particular harmonic event of two seconds duration every twelve seconds. The intense activity of the bees themselves is captured in fluctuating time signatures and waxing and waning tremolo and trills. At the heart of this setting, however, is Darwin's obsessive immersion in his subject, best exemplified by the ecstatic heraldry which accompanies the final scientific conclusion.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 set of 4 performance parts (86p. -- A4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced — Rhythmically very difficult - needs a conductor

Duration: 10 mins

Contents note: The soprano part is a full copy of the score.

Commission info: Commissioned as part of The Origin Cycle

First performance by Jane Sheldon, Firebird Ensemble, Jeffrey Means, Kate Vincent — 28 Apr 09. Cambridge Science Festival; Harvard Museum of Natural History

Text by Charles Darwin

Typeset edition.

Related products

This work is also available in the following products:

Economy of wax
Score: Economy of wax : for soprano, flute/piccolo, viola and harp / music by Nicholas Vines ; text by Charles Darwin.

Torrid nature scenes
CD: Torrid nature scenes / Nicholas Vines.


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- Video: Economy of Wax

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