The Theatre of Magical Beings

Param Vir (1952)

The Theatre of Magical Beings 2003

1111/2210/2perc/hp.kbd/str(3.3.3.2.1)
Duration 
29
Commissioner 
Publisher 

Four beings manifest in an internal theatrical space. The music has not been approached through narrative - rather I was seeking to express my sense of the archetypal voice that speaks through each. There are no illustrative stories to be dramatised - the theatre lies only in the play of energy.

I GARUDA A creature drawn from the Vedas, half man and half bird, he is the vehicle for Vishnu, preserver of the Universe. This inspired a Ritornello form in which opening music for a string sextet fans out to the rest of the ensemble and enfolds a dramatic episode.

II UROBORUS An ancient European symbol of a coiled serpent eating its own tail, it denotes renewal and self-sustenance. The music is cast on a symmetrical fixed-pitch grid and unfolds over a gigantic polyrhythm of six against seven. Over this circular apparatus appear several epiphanies that delineate empty spaces for meditation.

III ELEPHANT comes from legends surrounding the Buddha’s birth. Queen Maya had a dream in which she saw a magnificent white elephant with six tusks enter her womb. The dream was interpreted by wise men as foretelling the birth of either a great leader of a great Teacher. As we know, her son Prince Siddharth was destined to become the Buddha...

IV THE SIMURGH The image of this bird of paradise is drawn from that gem of Sufi literature ‘The Conference of the Birds’ by the Medieval poet Farid ud-Din Attar in which he describes the journey of the mortal birds to meet the great Simurgh. When the mortal birds reach the journey’s end they behold the shimmering mirror of light in which they see themselves reflected. It is an image of self realisation.

Param Vir

Performances 
6.5.03 CBSO Centre, Birmingham: BCMG / Susanna Mälkki
7.5.03 RNCM, Manchester: BCMG / Susanna Mälkki
8.5.03 Gala Theatre, Durham: BCMG / Susanna Mälkki
9.5.03 Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York: BCMG / Susanna Mälkki
10.5.03 Christchurch, Shropshire: BCMG / Susanna Mälkki
11.5.03 St Edward's School, Oxford: BCMG / Susanna Mälkki
11.11.03 Paradiso, Amsterdam: Schönberg Ensemble / Micha Hamel
1
Flute
doubling piccolo and alto flute
1
Oboe
doubling cor anglais
1
Clarinet
doubling bass clarinet
1
Bassoon
2
Horn
2
Trumpet
1
Trombone
doubling bass trombone
2
Percussion
3
Violin
3
Violin II
3
Viola
2
Cello
1
Double bass
1
Harp
1
Piano
keyboard
(Esc)