Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra in partnership with UBS, as part of the UBS Soundscapes: Pioneers series.

  • 3(2pic).2+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn/4.3.1+btbn.1/timp.2 (3 op)perc/hp.cel/str
  • 6 min

Programme Note

Virga opens with a striking gesture in woodwind and tuned percussion that is to become a recurring feature throughout the piece. In this fast moving five minute long piece, there is much rapid passagework in the strings, in particular a series of turbulent cascading runs, as well as a stately chorale in the brass. About half way through the piece, there is an extended melody for the 1st violins, at first unaccompanied and later coloured by other sections of the orchestra. The extremes of register that were available to me in the orchestra are amplified and highlighted during the small time-scale, and were essential in determining the shape of the piece.

Virga is precipitation that falls from a cloud but evaporates before it reaches the ground. It can produce rather dramatic and beautiful scenes, especially during a sunset.

© H.G.




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