I wrote Peregrination after completing a commission for the Calefax Reed Quintet called Calefactotum. This 20-minute long composition was the result of a plan that went out of hand, that is to say: when I started writing it, the music drew me into a direction I had not foreseen and began to take on a life of its own. Nothing unusual there since composing is both give and take between control (design) and what grows out of it (result). One either sticks to a plan or one keeps an eye open for unexpected but alluring territory that might be worth exploring (at the risk of hitting a dead end).

However, after finishing it, I began to feel an urge to go back to the original plan, which I thought was still a viable project and a worthy challenge. The plan in question is based on the composition of the ensemble: five musicians who can play in different formations from solo to the entire quintet. It can be mathematically represented as a complete set of permutations:

I – 5 solo sections (oboe, clarinet, saxophone, contrabass-clarinet and bassoon)

II – 10 different duos

III – 10 different trios

IV – 5 different quartets

V – 1 quintet

I.e. 31 sections in total.

I allocated each class of formations a certain ‘weight’ in terms of exposure and, adopting a total duration of 10 minutes, worked out the following distribution:

I – 24 seconds for each solo section = 120”;

II – 12 seconds for each duo = 120”

III – 12 seconds for each trio = 120”

IV – 24 seconds for each quartet = 120”

V – 120 seconds for the full quintet = 120”

This amounts to 5 x 120 = 600 seconds = 10 minutes.

The 31 sections were finally distributed in random order, indicated in the score by rehearsal marks A, B, C etc. up to Z, and the remaining 5 from Aa to Ee.


Whatever else I adopted in the design is less relevant in this exposé than the fact that these sections might inspire the ensemble to choreograph a performance of Peregrination in the way of a ‘scenario’, something the Calefax ensemble is not unfamiliar with. I therefore dedicated the work to the ensemble as an extra, which they are free to accept, reject or even attach onto Calefactotum as a second movement…