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Uncertainty/Eternity (Demeter, Ursula, Buddha)

for female vocal sextet

Year:  2013 Instrumentation:  SSSSAA

Year:  2013
Instrumentation  SSSSAA

Glenda Keam

Composer:   Glenda Keam

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Glenda Keam: Uncertainty/Et...

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Glenda Keam: Uncertainty/Et...

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Uncertainty/Eternity (Demeter, Ursula, Buddha) brings together texts in English, French and German, including poems by the Christchurch-based poet (Mary) Ursula Bethell, and by Rainer Maria Rilke. This combination of texts considers the interfaces between man and gods; the position of the earth’s surface poised between the underworld and space; cyclic activities such as those of satellites, the earth, and birth-death; and contrasts finity (endings, irrevocable change) with infinity (eternity).

DEMETER (Detection of Electro-Magnetic Emissions Transmitted from Earthquake Regions) is a French microsatellite mission investigating ionospheric disturbances from seismic and volcanic activity. The texts relating to this particular DEMETER and her detection of les ondes electromagnetiques while in orbite circulaire sit alongside references to the Greek goddess Demeter, who scoured the earth in many guises searching for her daughter Persephone. Demeter’s partial success in retrieving Persephone gave rise to the cycle of the seasons.

The notion of disturbances from earthquakes runs as a thread through both of these Demeter/DEMETER stories, as it does through Ursula Bethell’s 1940s poem ‘Pause’ which considers the temporary nature of human cultivation (and indeed her own existence) on the surface of the earth – in her case the slopes of the Cashmere hills. Alongside Bethell’s contemplation of the finite, Rilke’s 1908 Buddha in der Glorie faces the eternal, reminding us that the peace of Buddha will endure beyond the end of the stars.

Commissioned note

Commissioned by Baroque Voices

Performance history