Composed in the years 1958 - 1959, in collaboration with British composer Cornelius Cardew, this work extends the orchestral field and forces required by the composer's "Gruppen for 3 Orchestras," and is a further realization of his creative attempts to explore spatial distribution as a vital musical parameter. The piece requires four conductors (facing in from the walls, toward the center) and from 12 to 16 singers added to each orchestra. The text for the singers is derived from musical-sound considerations -- eg., how the vocal sounds combine with the instruments -- and are phonemes rather than words. There is no single "story" or program to the piece, although the composer himself has associated it's inspiration with internal "transformations" that occurred to him during daily hour-long air flights in the USA above the clouds, and a quote from Samuel Beckett's The Unnameable: "For he who has once had to listen will listen always...silence once broken will never again be whole. The composer, in a Cageian mode, says that a listener may stop listening to this piece whenever he wants, because "each moment can stand on its own and is related to all the other moments." The music is not intended to carry the listener along, but leaves the listener in peace. "My heartfelt wish is that this music may afford a little inner calm ... an awareness that we could have a lot of time if we simply take it." Like "Gruppen," there is a richness of orchestral timbres and a scale of variations of musical energy, but the sounds are always thoroughly interesting and full of character, never flat or abstract.
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