1986/97 HALLELUJAH I for bass clarinet and large symphony orchestra

HALLELUJAH I (1986-97), a symphony of the North in four movements for bass clarinet and large symphony orchestra, has a long history. The title refers to a work for chorus and orchestra that I composed back in the 60s called Transformation I, on the way to hallelujah. It makes good on a promise I made back then in the form of a vision, in which one day I would be in control of my skills and in doing so, attain the freedom to play, freely, with musical ideas. Hallelujah I (and II) is the result of an enduring desire to wring the maximum effect from an orchestra, in the same way as Jets d’Orgue celebrated the organ. That also meant engaging with the question of individual vs. orchestra. Evidence of my preoccupation with this problem is illustrated by, for example, seven other soloists emerging from the orchestra who challenge the soloist and join up to form a separate group in front of the stage.

The work plan for the composition was the realization of a set of objectives that had grown and ripened within me over the years: the fruit of a dream, so to speak. Evolution is the work’s central theme. Acting as a metaphor, it develops from an imaginary, primitive beginning – the musical Big Bang, as it were – to higher and ever more advanced forms of musical behavior and musical language. The score is of considerable metric proportions, as I subdivided the strings often up to their individual parts. The orchestra also employs 6 percussion with a sizable kit, and a full sized wind ensemble.

As with Jets d’Orgue, the composition grew in stages and a performance of movements 1 and 3 (completed in 1990) was long in coming. At last in 1992 the two movements were performed in Amsterdam, by the Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lucas Vis, with Harry Sparnaay on bass clarinet. My belief in the work’s potential was reinvigorated after that and I completed movements 2 and 4 soon afterwards, but not until I had carried out a few crucial changes and touch-ups to the first and third movements. A performance of all four movements is still awaiting the green light from a courageous orchestra or music organization.