1971 ENSEMBLES for mixed choir

ENSEMBLES for large mixed choir (1971) was a commission from the Federation of Dutch Unions of Singers (Federatie van Nederlandse Zangersbonden) for the international congress of the Workers Community of Choral Unions in Europe (Arbeitersgemeinschaft Europäischer Chorverbände) in Helsinki 1972.

Ensembles can be seen as a sound sculpture in time. The ensemble of eight voices and their distinct registers was conceived as ‘ensemble’ in the mathematical sense – as in set theory. Operations like union, intersection, complement etc. were applied on all the voices, resulting in a finite and exhaustive set of voice and register combinations. The order of these combinations is laid out randomly but the ensemble of dynamic and rhythmic permutations is treated like a ‘plastic’ operation over the result obtained in this way. The harmonies obtained, are the result of subtle adjustments inside the pitch areas each voice occupies in any given combination given combination, and obey certain criteria for consonance/dissonance.

The composition is based entirely on vocals, which articulate the various sections of the composition as a carpet of colors. The score comes complete with a piano reduction of the harmonies. It was first performed by the Dutch Radio Chamber Choir. Various performances followed by the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the ASKO Choir and the Koor Nieuwe Muziek.