At the Speed of Stillness
“Writing fast music is always a test of a composer, and Bray passed it with flying colours.”
Instrumentation 4343, 4331, timpani, 3 percussion, harp, piano (cel.), strings (18.104.22.168.8) [version also available in the following orchestration: 3333.4331. timps. 3p. hp. pn. strings 10.8.8.8.6]
First Performance 29 July 2012, Royal Albert Hall, London; Sir Mark Elder, Aldeburgh World Orchestra
Commissioned by the BBC Proms
Recording Debut Disc At the Speed of Stillness Download the album from iTunes here
21.7.14 US Premiere Tanglewood Music Centre, U.S.; Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, Karina Canellakis conductor
5.11.17 Canadian Premiere ISCM World Music Days in Vancouver, Canada; Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Bramwell Tovey conductor
7.5.20 French Premiere Auditorium, Opéra de Dijon, France; Orchester Dijon Bourgogne, Marzena Diakun conductor
Commissioned by the BBC Proms 2012 for Sir Mark Elder and the Aldeburgh World Orchestra
Dedicated to Mark-Anthony Turnage, At The Speed of Stillness derives part of its inspiration in a surrealist poem by Dora Maar:
I rested in the arms of my arms
I no longer slept
It was night in the summer,
winter in the day
An eternal shivering of thoughts
Fear love fear love
Close the window open the window
You’ll see you’ll see
The hummingbird motionless as a star.
The energy, sense of endless movement and of exhaustion encapsulated in the poem permeates the music. Important also is the play with paradoxical ideas- the contrary notion that something moving quicker than the human eye is able to detect can appear to be motionless or still.
Harnessed to this ‘energetic charge’ in the work are expressions of ideas that resulted from contemplation of Sizewell Power Station and the power lines stemming from it, which the composer drew on as a source of inspiration. Mesmerised by the relentlessness of the structures, the restless shifts in perspective as you chase the power source across the countryside. The constant duality of the power lines, an underlying energy- hidden and intimate almost, yet zinging with immense power and force.