Travels with Alex is a cycle of nine pieces for viola obbligato and various combinations drawn from an ensemble of 24 musicians (including two performers on Tibetan instruments). Ideally these compositions are to be played as a complete cycle, given the use of a large-scale durational interval succession to derive the relative durations of the individual pieces and sections within them. However, performance individually or in smaller combinations is also possible. The initial inspirations were twofold: the gift to the composer of a Tibetan thangka, and the travel writings of the French Buddhist, Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969).
Amongst the original features of the cycle is the juxtaposition of typical Western orchestral instruments with instruments used in Tibetan Buddhist ritual practices and the inclusion of poetry in French inspired by David-Néel’s writings. The latter appears in two of the nine pieces (Travels with Alex 3 and 8), involving the addition of a countertenor to the instrumental ensemble.
Click on each piece to access the score: