Economy of wax : for soprano, flute/piccolo, viola and harp
by Nicholas Vines (2009)
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Library shelf no. CD 2456 [Not for loan]
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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.
Instrumentation: Soprano, flute/piccolo, viola, harp.
Duration: 10 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Rhythmically very difficult - needs a conductor
Text by Charles Darwin
Economy of Wax
Performances of this work
17 Oct 09: Halifax. Featuring Jane Sheldon.
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