2007 PHAGOCITOSIS – Overture for symphony orchestra

PHAGOCITOSIS (2006/07) was commissioned by the Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation NPS and is based on a ‘theme’ provided by the corporation. Originally five more composers were given the challenge to show off their talent in a ‘hexameron’ contest and create music out of nothing more than three notes: Pam-pa-Dam, a punctuated signal reminiscent of fanfares and hunting horns (dominant-dominant-tonic). As it happened, the hexameron idea never took off for lack of interest. All that remains is an overture for orchestra… It was first performed during the Dutch Music Days in November 2008 by the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Micha Hamel.

Its title was chosen not only to distinguish my contribution from my team-mates, but also to indicate that this ‘theme’ more or less acts like a phagocyte, a cell which engulfs foreign material in an organism or consumes debris and foreign bodies for destruction or expulsion. That is more or less what it does in my composition, with the difference that it also ushers in several well known musical references which contain the cell (in their DNA as it were). In fact, the world of music is so full of tunes which contain the bug, that associations are virtually inevitable. I didn’t want to fight these invitations and, instead, let the floodgates open to find out if an organism could be created out of the contamination process. So here is the ambiguity: destruction as metabolism for construction – decomposition as catalyst for composition. I leave it to my audiences to identify the various references – with apologies to the authors whose works I abused.