birds(unfalling) : for solo soprano and string sextet
by Chris Williams (2013)
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Written for the Rhapsody Composing Project in 2013, birds(unfalling) was inspired by, and intended to accompany Sian Tucker's enormous mobile installation Falling Leaves at The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Two aspects of Sian Tucker's Falling Leaves struck me immediately. The first is what I would call the 'beautiful illusion of motion' that it evokes. While we are told the leaves are falling, and are happy to experience it this way, in reality their movement is more stylized, rotating slowly on their axes, going everywhere and nowhere at once. They could, really, be moving up or down, but are doing neither in the most beguiling way.
It also occurred to me that only half the story is told by the title, and that the birds within the mix of leaves have their own trajectory, creating a beautiful counterpoint. birds(unfalling) tries to complete the sculpture by contemplating their complimentary motion.
The sung text has no meaning, as such, but is drawn from different combinations of the species names of Australian doves. Their common names also seem to evoke the colour and sentiment of Falling Leaves with birds such as the Emerald Dove, the Rose-Crowned Fruit-Dove, the Orange-Bellied Fruit Dove and the Diamond Dove, together with the Peaceful Dove. The syllables, and combinations have been chosen and are combined for their sonic qualities, as well as these allusions.
Instrumentation: Soprano and string sextet (4 x violins, 2 x violas, 1 x cello), or Soprano and string orchestra.
Duration: 6 min.
Commission note: Commissioned by The Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity as part of the Rhapsody Composing Project, 2013
First performance: Dec 13. Royal College of Music, London
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