Where Icebergs Dance Away


I preferred the miniature intricacy of Charlotte Bray’s recent five-minute work, Where Icebergs Dance Away,
inspired by a visit to Greenland.
The start and finish sound suitably frozen, with slithery string textures, but Bray
cleverly transforms this icy material in the middle and you do get the illusion of light dancing on glacial surfaces
Richard Morrison, The Times

Duration 6’
Instrumentation 2(I&II=picc).2.2.2 – – perc(1) – harp – strings (min.
First Performance 28 May 2021; WDR Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Cristina Măcelaru
Commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Further Performances
20.08.21 Ulster Hall, Belfast; Jan van Steen conductor, Ulster Orchestra
27.08.21 BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London; Sakari Oramo conductor, BBC Symphony Orchestra
16.04.23 Congress Centrum Pforzheim CCP (Großer Saal), Am Waisenhausplatz 1 – 3, 75175 Pforzheim, Germany; Badische Philharmonie Pforzheim, Robin Davis conductor
15.09.23 Corbett Auditorium, University of Cincinnati, US; CCM Philharmonia, Mark Gibson conductor
26.09.23 Bâtiment des Forces Motrices, Genève, Switzerland; L’Orchestre de Chambre de Genève, Raphaël Merlin conductor
Charlotte has a worldwide, exclusive publishing agreement with Birdsong
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The music is majestic and mysterious, with a powerful presence. Luxuriant, icy chords open the work, then melt unpredictably with descending motifs and sporadic splashes of colour in the flute, piccolo, harp and tuned percussion. This opening gives way to a playful, lively section. Layers build, with melodies at times spiky, at times smooth and soaring, sculptured by the wind.

Accompanying textural and rhythmic material add to the covering – prickly chords and brittle pizzicato pick away at the ice while wintry, luminescent figures dance enraptured. The solid, seemingly impenetrable wall of ice returns in the material from the opening section, now more forbidding and portentous. In the added movement, a lingering uncertainty succumbs to the inevitable, ascending as well as descending notes, with richer harmonies.

I strive to portray the light and beauty of the icy landscape glistening in the sun, exploring musically the contradictory nature of glaciers- stable yet fragile. My work is part influenced by the incredible artwork of Zaria Forman, who paints in pastels from photos taken of icescapes, particularly her work entitled ‘Disco Bay’, also a place I found inspiring during a visit in 2016.