2020 has been an important year for the international performance of Charlotte Bray major orchestral compositions.
At the Speed of Stillness was scheduled its French premiere in Dijon with the Orchestre Dijon Bourgogne under Marzena Daikun. The 11-minute work was premiered at the Proms in 2012, about which Ivan Hewitt wrote in The Telegraph:
A stillness which appears to move fast, a motion which as it gets faster becomes still; this is a paradox that in ordinary life manifests itself only occasionally, like those moments in films when the spinning train wheels appear to become motionless. Music, on the other hand, lives quite naturally in this curious state.Ivan Hewitt ‘At the Speed of Stillness gives title to Charlotte Bray’s debut CD released by NMC in 2014.’
Bray’s piece picks up on this duality, but she extends the simple opposition of speed and stillness into other sorts of dualities, which owe some of their dark emotional colouring to the poem that inspired the piece. It was written by Dora Maar, who is better known as one of Picasso’s many female muses, but was also a remarkable Surrealist writer. This particular poem begins with a strange solipsistic image: ‘l rest in the arm of my arms’. It juxtaposes fear and love, winter and summer, night and day, and ends with the startling image of ‘the hummingbird motionless as a star’.
The next scheduled performances of At the Speed of Stillness are 8 & 10 October 2020 by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium – Benaroya Hall, Seattle.
Also, Bray’s cello concerto Falling in the Fire was set to see its US premiere this month at the Visual and Performing Arts Center, Western Connecticut University with the Western CT Youth Orchestra, conductor Eric Mahl conductor and cellist Tyler Borden.
The BBC Commissioned Falling in the Fire was written specially for cellist Guy Johnston in 2015 and debuted at the BBC Proms. Ed McKeon wrote:
On an eventful morning in August 2015, when Bray began working on the cello concerto, she read the devastating news over breakfast that the so-called Islamic State had destroyed the ancient city of Palmyra, including the historic and Hellenistic First Temple of Bal and the Temple of Baalshamin, dating from 323-31 BC. Although their destruction inevitably formed the focal point of the news, this barbaric act did little to deflect attention away from the human horror and suffering being endured in the region.Ed McKeon
The use of moral outrage as a motivation for art, although new to the composer, provided a means by which she could both seek to comprehend such tragic and traumatic events and create something to which others may equally relate. And, while it was important to situate the work in real events, this concerto is entirely an abstract reflection of the situation and on conflict in its wider sense. The razing of the temples provided an inception for the piece, the emerging humanitarian crises forming its body, with the motivating factors of power, identity, religion, humanity and territory.
Take a look on the work-in-progress on Falling in the Fire with cellist Guy Johnston ahead of its world premiere:
Composers Edition is proud of the global recognition Charlotte Bray’s music has been receiving. Looking forward to future performances, we are very grateful to be able to enjoy Bray’s music through these wonderful recordings as well as the scores available through our website.
Tags: At the Speed of Stillness, BBC Prom, BBC Proms, Charlotte Bray, Ed McKeon, Eric Mahl, Falling in the Fire, Guy Johnston, Ivan Hewitt, Marzena Daikun, NMC Recordings, Orchestre Dijon Bourgogne, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, The Telegraph, Tyler Borden, Visual and Performing Arts Center, Western Connecticut University, Western CT Youth Orchestra