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four movements for orchestra

Year:  2012   ·  Duration:  18m
Instrumentation:  2**3*3*3*; 4330; 2 perc. (incl. timp); strings | (Perc: bs.dr, vib., glock., crots., whip, sn.dr)

Year:  2012
Duration:  18m
Instrumentation  2**3*3*3*; 4330; 2 perc. (i...

Alex Taylor

Composer:   Alex Taylor

Films, Audio & Samples

Alex Taylor: Feel - AUDIO

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NZSO, Tecwyn Evans (conductor), 2013 NZSO-RNZ Concert-SOUNZ Recordings.

Alex Taylor: feel - AUDIO

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Lilburn's Legacy: Alex Tayl...

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Sample Score

Sample: first two pages of each movement

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While the composer is wary of assigning a fixed meaning or intention to the finished work, there are elements of reflexivity and self-reference at play in the work's construction. The listener will bring his or her own aesthetic values, experiences and emotions to the work, but the following is provided to complement those, only as a guide to how the piece might be read in one way or another.

The broad trajectory of feel is one of expansion within a framework of introspection. At the outset, the lyrical voice of the cor anglais is trapped in a stifling, hostile environment, which buries the cor in amorphous, alien textures. But by the end of the work, melodic figures saturate the texture, transforming the orchestra from something rather suffocating and claustrophobic to something more open, polyphonic and mercurial. The trapped middle voices gradually expand outwards to incorporate higher and lower registers, more expansive gestures and extend beyond the constraints imposed at the opening.

In many ways for me this is a sort of “coming out” piece, or at least, a piece concerned with the feel of coming out. It contains both confessional and closeted elements, often in conflict, much like in John Ashbery's “Poem in Three Parts,” from which this work's title is derived. There Ashbery is both concerned with and ambivalent towards the speaker's own sexuality; he seems to present the speaker of the poem as almost ridiculous in the way he separates intimacy and emotion, but at the same time there is a kind of positive romanticization of the speaker's (impossible?) attempt to go beyond sexuality towards simply “feelings”:

“I just have other things to think about,
 More important things. Who goes to bed with what
 Is unimportant. Feelings are important.
 Mostly I think of feelings, they fill up my life 
Like the wind, like tumbling clouds 
In a sky full of clouds, clouds upon clouds.”

extract from “1. Love” in “Poem in Three Parts” by John Ashbery. Published in the collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

feel is not a musical analogy or direct representation of that poem, but it does share similar concerns: closetedness, openness, and an attempt to explore the relationship between identity, intimacy and emotion. For me personally this is a way of extending and opening out my musical language towards something more inclusive – towards a language that recognises not only the difficulties and constraints of lyricism (and of music in general) but also its many possibilities.

The work is in four movements, with a break only between the second and third movements.

Commissioned note

written for the NZSO National Youth Orchestra

Contents note

I. vault II. edge / point III. inner IV. ex / out of

Performance history

08 Sep 2012: Performed by the NZSO National Youth Orchestra, cond. Wyn Davies, at the CBS Arena, in Christchurch

30 May 2013: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Tecwyn Evans (conductor). Recorded by RNZ Concert as part of the 2013 NZSO-RNZ Concert-SOUNZ Recordings.

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