The Quirky Hourglass

for (unconducted) chamber orchestra

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Score for perusal use available below
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Duration: approx. 11min 15sec

To be ready and to adapt according to our needs, and 
what materials we have available. Tradition sometimes 
does not serve the present and this is acceptable …

We learn to always try, give it our best and we will finally succeed. But times come when it feels that no matter how much you are trying it isn’t enough, like in parenthood or chasing after a career. This piece wanted to find a way out of situations that seem unending. Throughout its course it underwent drastic transformations musically and thematically and no longer reminds any notions of the ominous music that it once had, the ominous music that accompanies any unending situation in movies. The Quirky Hourglass sets off to try and engage the audience in the head-bobbing, and foot tapping bringing everyone together with a lighter heart to engage with this music.

Perhaps the course of writing this piece is to show that sometimes we just need to let go a little bit of the past…

The slow section – the Lake

After the head-bobbing beginning carried out predominantly by the strings, we arrive at a space of incredible quietness and stillness, a lake-like sonar experience. The audience and performers are invited to surrender to the auditory nuances of the performing instruments. I wanted to challenge myself in creating quiet sound fields and I found myself listening to the songs of Finneas and Billie Eillish that became a form of inspiration. Their music and performance uncovers these small subtleties that I find intriguing and captivating. I have been exploring quiet settings in other pieces as well such as the piece In The Clouds. You will hear strong notions of Hans Abrahamsen and Barbara Hannigan in there. Another strong influence on the entire piece but more so in this section has been the Cypriot classical contemporary composer Faidros Kavallaris.

The Beginning – The Head-bobbing Experience

The Quirky Hourglass starts with a string quintet while the woodwinds paint waves around it dropping hints of what will come later on. This theme has its roots in rap music. Specifically the rhythmic melodies of the verses and how they are juxtaposed against the bass and beat and form the dance-like feel. It is important that the audience feel the urge to bob their heads and move their bodies to the music. Listening to this music will become a holistic experience as it actively engages the body, the mind and the soul.

Beyond the Lake

After the quiet lake we arrive at this section where I fuse together elements of jazz and spicy block chord progressions, and lyrical passages that exaggerate elements of Cypriot vocal music with special use of the tritone and augmented steps as well as irregular time signatures. What follows this thick layered section is a playful canon with solos and duets succeeding one another creating different timbral combinations. 

The canon ends with the cello who almost breaks time with its unapologetic, grounded and expressive melismatic song, to be performed with the weight of a singer singing a power ballad in the 90s (think of Je suis malade by Lara Fabian). 

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Technicalities 

This piece sets off to find and develop timbres and textures. The transitions between the different sonorous spaces happens with respect to the little nuances and allows the space for them to be developed.

This piece is constructed by alternating structured, rhythmical and tempo-specific sections to free of meter sections for all instruments except the percussionist. Almost all instrumentalists have a set of seconds to complete each bar. The percussionist plays a pattern keeping time and this becomes useful especially if the ensemble plays without a conductor.

Web-references
Flute techniques
Clarinet techniques
French Horn techniques

Any and all ensembles willing to perform this are encouraged
to contact me to discuss further the techniques used.

Instrumentation 

1 Flute (doubling Alto)
1 Clarinet (doubling Bass
1 Horn
1 Percussion player * [1 suspended Cymbal, 2 Toms (medium, low), 1 snare drum, 1 CowBell, 1 Slapstick, 1 triangle, 1 woodblock, 2 bongos, 1 Glockenspiel (separate staff)]
1 Piano (prepared – see notes)
2 Violins
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Double Bass

Program note

The feeling of being in an hourglass and trying to come out before all the grains of sand
have fallen on you, is a haunting feeling. And then you take a deep breath and realise
that the hourglass feeling lasts only a moment. In reality we aren’t in an hourglass. Time
stops, and bends, and our experiences change and vary, and we adapt to the new and
unexpected. Life has a way of coming round again finding us a bit wiser. As long as we
have become wiser and don’t live in the comforting past.

Contact me if you are interested for a performance of the piece and to provide you with the parts.