Jonathan Pitkin

Chamber Music for 44 strings
for 20 vn, 12 vla, 8 vc, 4 db

NB: a version also exists for 22 strings
(or 12 vn, 4 vla, 4 vc, 2 db)

duration: 11 minutes

Chamber Music for 44 strings

Voices is a dramatic exploration of the possibilities of treating the string orchestra on the one hand as a collection of 44 soloists, and on the other as a single instrument. Foregrounds frequently become backgrounds, and backgrounds emerge as foregrounds, in order to shift constantly the listener’s principal focus of attention, and the source of the music’s principal voice. The subtitle Chamber Music refers not only to the importance of each of the 44 players, and to the use of smaller ensembles within the orchestra, but to the first movement’s preoccupation with moving sound through space, dividing the sections up to create a chamber through which musical material is diffused.

Born in 1978, Jonathan Pitkin studied at Christ Church, Oxford and at the Royal Academy of Music under Christopher Brown. As well as receiving a number of performances at the Academy, his music has been played at the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre and Spitalfields Festival, and he has collaborated in workshops and performances with musicians such as Martyn Brabbins, Jane Manning, Thomas Adès, the BBC Singers and members of the Philharmonia and the London Sinfonietta. In 1998 he attended Karlheinz Stockhausen’s inaugural composition course in Kürten, Germany, and in 2000 spent three months at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied with Guy Reibel. In 2001 he was awarded the Temple Church Composition Prize for his anthem Hark! a herald voice is calling.

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