I have always been fascinated by the mobiles by the sculptor Alexander Calder. How they are built from delicate separate pieces connected together firmly, but in a way to ensure they can move from slightest breeze of air. Hanging in the air, they turn slowly and silently revealing new shapes as they move. At the same time their shadow is changing almost organically creating endless variations on the surrounding surfaces.
The chamber ensemble piece Mobiles draws from the idea of floating effortlessness, endless variation and change of view point of Calder’s work. At times the piece seems to be hanging delicately in the air, at times it grows firm roots into the ground. The first movement Timbre, with its gently fluctuating textures of color change abruptly into a section of expressive instrumental solos titled Movement. The music is dense with attacks and sound. Gradually changing by omitting the sound tones, the texture morphs into delicate rattling noises and whispers. In the third movement Whisperings the different sections of the ensemble appear to be in a dialogue with each other. For this movement, and with the aid of computer assisted orchestration, I used the sound of a recorded whispered human voice as a timbral model for the ensemble arrangements. From these fragments, I gradually built a dense but delicate asymmetrical texture. I wanted to try to make the ensemble whisper.
In meditation, the throat chakra is described by being the channel between two worlds – individual and universal. In sound its representation is often a singing bowl tuned in G, which became the center pitch, the stem of my Mobiles. In the heart of the piece, the fourth movement Calm, the music stays still almost as if floating in the air. Two crystal singing bowls tuned slightly differently in G form a mesmerizing fluctuating surface on which the other instrumental sounds float. Slowly turning and forming different shapes in the air the piece gradually returns to its original shape.
While visiting New Holland – a triangle of red brick buildings surrounded by the channels of St. Petersburg – I could sense the presence of different eras of history. The past, present and future of this magnificent place serve as inspiration for different sections of my piece.
Today in ruins, New Holland was once a busy naval base. In the warehouses, there was also one of the first radio stations of Russia. I have tried to capture a glimpse of the history of New Holland in a soundscape. The submarine, morse code and analogue radio sounds gave inspiration to the rhythmic patterns, gestures, harmony and timbre of my work.
The atmosphere of the present – stillness of the completely covered windows keeping the spaces inside hidden – governs the general character of the work. The shapes of the arcs of the hallways and windows transform into gliding harmonies, the sunlight on the walls flickers in beautiful timbres.
The glamour of the designed future for New Holland reflects in the urban jazz-inspired short and fast moving section in the middle of the piece. Towards the end of this section, the illusion of the future evaporates slowly. The colorful paper lanterns of the present New Holland are slowly swinging in the wind.
Commissioned by The St. Petersburg Pro Arte Foundation for Culture and Arts.