• Simon Holt
  • Ellsworth 2 (2012)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Utah Symphony Orchestra

  • 2+pic.3.1+2bcl.1+cbn/4.3.2+btbn.1/timp.2perc/hp.cel/str
  • 15 min

Programme Note

I’ve been very strict with myself in this piece. The model for it is ‘Painting for a white wall’ by Ellsworth Kelly, a painter I’ve long admired for his rigour, attention to detail and clarity of thinking. The material stems from music that I wrote in an earlier piece, Troubled Light (2008), composed for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales where I was Composer in Association for 4 years. The third movement of Troubled Light is called ‘Ellsworth’; essentially the slow, central, meditative section of the whole piece. Some of the material from this movement re-appears in the final movement, at which point it has become hugely loud and abrasive and it’s this music that I took as a starting point for Ellsworth 2. The painting by Kelly is in 5 distinct sections, all exactly the same size; both width and height. Each one is a separate, clearly defined colour: black pink orange white blue. It’s precisely this kind of clarity that I have tried to aim for in my piece: 5 distinct sections of orchestral colour, each of which lasts exactly 3 minutes (or should do!). They’re all distant cousins of each other, material-wise, running without a break. Clearly, the piece should last exactly 15 minutes.
(c) Simon Holt


Preview the score