Śūnyatā : for orchestra
by Fiona Hill (2021)
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The title of my composition Śūnyatā (pronounced "shoonyata") is a Sanskrit word which has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. It is generally described as a Buddhist concept of 'emptiness' where everything is interconnected in a state of constant flux. Whilst composing the work I surrounded myself with symbols from Neolithic Goddess mythology and resonated with the concept of a deep spiral which grounds us to the earth and traces lines to our ancient ancestors.
The opening of the piece sees the whole orchestra breathing together like a giant 'yogic breath'. The deep spiral gradually begins and the orchestra wakes together like a sleeping giant. The focus of the work is largely textural and attempts to evoke concepts of timeless totality and transcendence to other dimensions.
Some quotes from the book "The myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an image" by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford were particularly inspiring:
"The Bird Goddess appears as the vessel that is both labyrinth and door to the dimension beyond human life"
"The cosmic egg of the universe was laid by the cosmic mother bird, and its cracking open was the beginning of time and space."
"She (the Goddess) governed the fecundity of woman….. She was an enduring image of both renewal in time and timeless totality"
Instrumentation: 2 Flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), oboe, cor anglais, clarinet in Bb, bass clarinet in Bb, bassoon, contrabassoon, 2 horns in F, trumpet Bb, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, percussion, harp, strings.
Duration: 10 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Extended techniques and instrument preparations
Dedication note: Dedicated to John Hill.
The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc. of this work:
textural, microtonal, orchestral, extended techniques, preparation, preparations, filmic, film, drone, melody, melodic, cello solo, breath.
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