Chaos, Fire and Nostalgia

Alarm Will Sound has released their performance of “embers” from last summer! https://soundcloud.com/alarm-will-sound/embers-fused-to-ash

Andrew McManus, composer

At the end of Die Walküre, Wagner represents the fire surrounding a sleeping Brünnhilde with a beautiful flurry of orchestral activity: a sea of sweeping, impossibly fast violins under pointed woodwind and harp gestures. It’s called the “Feuerzauber” or “Magic Fire Music”, and here’s a small part of it:

Screenshot 2015-06-15 08.54.52

My new piece for the Mizzou International Composers Festival and Alarm Will Soundembers, fused to ash, alludes to this in strange and twisted ways, like these:

Screenshot 2015-06-15 09.03.56Screenshot 2015-06-15 09.06.21

There are other representations of fire, like the sustained, uncomfortably high brilliance of the opening, and the generally unpredictable fits and starts that pervade the piece. But this chaotic, noisy energy slowly extinguishes over time. It relaxes into a bluesy lyricism, then further fades into a cold but tender chorale, with simple melodic lines hovering over low sustained strings. The ending hovers on the edge of silence: wispy strings struggle to rise from the…

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