1999/2000 IN PARADISUM for large instrumental ensemble (20 players)

IN PARADISUM (1999-2000) was commissioned by the ASKO ensemble for a performance in Amsterdam at a venue called Paradiso. Its rectangular shape includes balconies which hug the auditorium in a horse shoe, with the stage connecting the open end. I wanted to use these as the spatial basis for the composition.

On the balconies are 4 brass instruments at the extreme corners: the two horns, the trumpet and the trombone. In between them are the clarinet, the oboe and the flute. A particular type of sound movement that I applied on a regular basis is the gradual appearance and disappearance a sound (crescendo/decrescendo) in the manner of dove tailing : when a sound reaches its climax another starts to appear ‘from behind’ whilst the first disappears. I applied this feature in particular for the execution of the ten fragments of the Gregorian chant In Paradisum (deducant te angeli…) from the Latin Requiem Mass. These sections, marked IP in the score, are used as the cornerstones of the composition and appear at more or less regular intervals. The individual notes of the melodic fragments are spread over the four brass instruments and move around clockwise over the balconies in the manner described above. The music connecting them emerges usually as a gradual transformation of each section and continues to prepare the grounds for the next, until we reach the last one that concludes the work. The object was to vary these interludes as much as possible, creating a work which is basically a sequence of ten interludes of different character, separated by the ten fragments of the Gregorian chant.

In Paradisum is not exclusively written for that particular venue in Amsterdam though. It can be played in concert halls that have no balconies, but where the seven wind players can be arranged around the audience in the same order, on slightly raised platforms. With the help of monitors the conductor can communicate with each individual player.

The original subtitle for In Paradisum was Requiem for the Earth. As I realized that Planet Earth will go on doing just fine after humanity’s demise, I left the title open to speculation. Perhaps it is all down to a Conspiracy of the Angels, Hell’s or otherwise…