Commissioned by NMC Recordings as part of "Objects at an Exhibition” project to mark its 25th anniversary and first performed by the Aurora Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas Collon, on October 3rd at the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London.

  • 1.1.1(bcl).1/[synth]/
  • 7 min

Programme Note

A musical portrait of the Energy Hall: power and Steam.

The overwhelming sense of man-made energy one feels upon entering the Energy Hall prevents one from seeing – and hearing – at first glance the differences between the various ingenious machines. Further study reveals each machine to have its own genius, its own mechanisms- AND its own sounds.

I have chosen to focus the four different sections of my piece in the following way: starting with low pitches led by trumpet and horn, the first section illustrates the slow-moving but powerful turning of a large wheel. This merges into the second section where the oboe and woodwinds illustrate faster moving machines with “busy” movement in more middle range pitches. This leads to the third slow section of higher pitches where an anchoring cluster chord (built from notes of an octatonic scale) tethers flights of fancy by flute and violin – suggestive of the finer things of delicacy and beauty that can be made from these mechanized inventions. The fourth and final section is a climactic coda of the summation of the three previous independent parts, working together now to form the impact of composite energy housed in the hall.


Musgrave: Power Play