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James Gardner: Some other p...Embedded audio
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"The "Tower of Babel" does not ﬁgure merely the irreducible multiplicity of tongues; it exhibits an incompletion, the impossibility of ﬁnishing, of totalising, of saturating, of completing something on the order of ediﬁcation, construction, system and architectonics." Jacques Derrida
"Babel is the sign that every utterance or every text is riven by faults and ﬁssures...rushing away into the vacuum formed by its own notes" Gary Shapiro
The two quotes above were found after I had already started work on this piece, and decided on a title, but their relevance to the actual composition of the work gained exponentially as the première approached. The piece as it now exists is incomplete as far as my original plans are concerned, but I hope it isn't entirely incoherent. In any case as I’m the only one to know what those original plans were, who’s to know? And isn’t this the case with virtually any work? So perhaps I should have kept quiet instead of fessing up...
Back to the music. In keeping with Breughel’s two paintings of the Tower of Babel, in which builders are shown "hewing architectural rationality from the ancient rock" the piece opens deliberately with what one critic pejoratively referred to as the "frantic agglomeration" of some of the music played at a 175 East concert in 2000. The texture does clear however, and the piece proceeds through a number of phases of ensemble independence and unity. And if you really think I’m going to give away the plot...
some other plots for Babel was commissioned by Mark Menzies with funding from Creative New Zealand, and is dedicated to the extraordinary performers at the premiere and to Glenda Keam, all of whom, through their enthusiasm, commitment and encouragement, brought the piece to life.
Commissioned by Mark Menzies with funding from Creative New Zealand.
06 Aug 2000: Performed by 175 East: Helen Burr (horn), Johnny Chang (violin), ingrid Culliford (flutes), Gretchen La Roche (clarinets), Katherine Hebley (cello), Mark Menzies (violin), Lenny Sakofsky (percussion), Daniel Stabler (d. bass), Tim Sutton (bass trombone), Andrew Uren (bass clarinet) with Hamish McKeich (conductor); Hopetoun Alpha, Auckland
20 Aug 2000: Performed by 175 East: Helen Burr (horn), Johnny Chang (violin), ingrid Culliford (flutes), Gretchen La Roche (clarinets), Katherine Hebley (cello), Mark Menzies (violin), Lenny Sakofsky (percussion), Daniel Stabler (d. bass), Tim Sutton (bass trombone), Andrew Uren (bass clarinet) with Hamish McKeich (conductor)
30 Sep 2002: Performed by Caroline Balding (violin) and Lontano ensemble, conducted by Odaline de la Martinez, at the Purcell Room, in London.
Performed by 175 East, with Mark Menzies (violin)
Performed by 175 East, Mark Menzies (violin)