Friday 9 January 2009


Happy New Year! Our first commission for 2009 is Tenebrae by Ryan Wigglesworth, which receives its premiere in Krakow on Sunday week, before touring to Cambridge, London, Birmingham and Norwich. It has been commissioned with funds from Cambridge and is one of the first events marking the University's 800th anniversary.

Ryan has written: 'Tenebrae is familiar as the Christian service which takes place on the three consecutive evenings of Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday. The service is characterized by the gradual extinguishing of fifteen candles, interspersed with the reading or chanting of psalms. As the close of the service, after the last remaining lit candle has been put out and Psalm 22 concluded, the congregation makes its way out of the church in darkness.

Whilst certain aspects of this ritual inform my piece, it is perhaps the more literal sense of the word tenebrae – ‘shadows’ – that provides the work’s generative idea. Shadows, only most obviously appearing in the guise of string tremolandi or woodwind fluttering, are cast in various ways around principal melodic figures and lines (at the opening provided by the cor anglais). These shadows lengthen and recede, double and transform, divide and combine, and at times even proceed to develop along their own independent paths.'

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