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Fray : double chamber concerto for two flautists and ensemble

by Elliott Gyger (2017)

Work Overview

The English word "fray" is in fact not one but two words, with different histories, whose spelling and pronunciation have converged. As a verb referring to the wearing-out of cloth - and by metaphorical extension, of tempers and patience - it comes from French "frayer", which is descended from Latin words related to friction. As a noun, it can also mean a quarrel, contest or battle, as in the phrase "into the fray"; this version of the word is shortened from the older form "affray" - which can also be a verb, whose past participle is the source of the word "afraid". All in all, this single syllable carries a rich and complex set of connotations, from physical deterioration and exasperation through to fear, competition and conflict.

These ideas resonate within the present work, whose central concern is with unity aspired to but not necessarily achieved. Two identical but protean soloists interact with one another and a highly disparate accompanying quintet, creating various alliances and oppositions in which the traditional concerto paradigm is but one of several reference points. All the possible combinations of flutes are explored systematically across the work, but in sections whose durations range from just three seconds to around five minutes.

Work Details

Year: 2017

Instrumentation: Piccolo/flute/alto flute/bass flute 1, piccolo/flute/alto flute/bass flute 2, clarinet in E flat, electric guitar, cello, piano, percussion.

Duration: 30 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Written for: Kupka's Piano

First performance: by Kupka's Piano, Hannah Reardon-Smith at BIFEM: Fray (Ulumbarra Theatre) on 2 Sep 2017

Performances of this work

2 Sep 2017: at BIFEM: Fray (Ulumbarra Theatre). Featuring Kupka's Piano, Hannah Reardon-Smith.

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