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Chinese whisper : large chamber ensemble

by Damien Ricketson (2000)

Audio Sample

Performance by Orfeus Chamber Orchestra from the CD Selected works by AMC represented artists, vol. 35.

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Selected works by AMC represented artists, vol. 35.


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Selected works by AMC represented artists, vol. 35.

Library shelf no. CD 2477 [Available for loan]

Chinese whisper


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Chinese whisper : for mixed string ensemble, 12 players / Damien Ricketson.

Library shelf no. Q 785.719/RIC 2 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

The Chinese Whisper ensemble of twelve string players is divided into three smaller ensembles; an amplified violin and cello duo, a string quartet, and a permanently muted sextet. The three ensembles are considered different characters, each with a unique musical heritage. The muted sextet (tuned a quarter-tone flat) is termed 'shadow' and is imagined as an almost forgotten folk music. The string quartet, termed 'image', is the most reminiscent of a mainstay classical-music language. The amplified duo ('silhouette') is imagined as an outline of something to come, a truly unique musical language. The three characters begin the piece with distinctive stylistic predilections, as though three individuals with uncommon life- stories suddenly find themselves having to engage with one another. The work subsequently unfolds as twelve miniature movements, each movement being a conceptual reiteration of the previous. Like the children's game 'Chinese whispers', however, with each repetition a process of distortion occurs. As the story is repeated and passed around the three characters, they gradually transform from individual entities with distinct languages towards a common amorphous whole.

Work Details

Year: 2000

Instrumentation: Amplified duet (violin, cello), string quartet (2 violins, viola, cello), muted sextet (2 violins, 2 violas, cello, double bass).

Duration: 20 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Ian Potter Cultural Trust.

First performance: by Orfeus Chamber Orchestra — 16 Nov 02. Krakow, Poland

Performances of this work

16 Nov 02: Krakow, Poland. Featuring Orfeus Chamber Orchestra.

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