Posted on 9 March 2017
Associate Lecturer in Composition Ann Cleare's eyam v (woven) for contrabass flute, contrabass clarinet and orchestra was premiered by the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland at The National Concert Hall in Dublin on February 14th.
This is the final piece in the eyam series, a cycle of five connecting pieces for clarinets and flutes in various solo, ensemble, electronic and orchestral settings that composer Ann Cleare has been working on since 2008. The previous pieces in the cycle were commissioned by New York’s Argento Chamber Ensemble and the SWR’s Experimental Studio, and premiered at SARC in Belfast, The Library of Congress in Washington D.C, and at the ZKM in Karlsruhe.
Eyam is a small village in Derbyshire. The village is best known for being the "plague village" that chose to isolate itself when the plague was discovered there in August 1665, rather than let the infection spread. In Cleare’s cycle, the village stands as a metaphor for ideas of isolation and infiltration that are sonically explored across the eyam pieces.
She writes: “the clarinet is soloist of eyam i and eyam ii, and the flute is soloist of eyam iii and eyam iv. In eyam v, after the clarinet and flute’s independent explorations in the earlier pieces, the orchestra brings the contrabass flute and contrabass clarinet into a new place of interaction. The flute begins the piece with the full orchestra energetically supporting it, and the clarinet is a lone figure seeking elevation from its low register. The orchestra gradually negotiates between these contrasting soloists, weaving a new sonic mass from threads that it takes from each of their musical identities, rebalancing the energy levels between these instruments. This new sonic mass that the orchestra weaves brings the flute and clarinet to a new place, a place that guides the soloists into a type of equilibrium that they can build forward from.”
The Irish Times described the piece as “a rare pleasure” and compared it to surrealist Irish writer, Flann O’Brien. Click here to read a full review.
The piece will be broadcast on RTÉ Lyric FM’s Nova on March 26th.