Commissioned by the Finnish Radio, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and BBC Radio 3.

  • ca; 2(afl:pic)23(bcl)2(cbn)/4221/timp.3perc/
  • Cor Anglais
  • 21 min

Programme Note

I   The Infant Gaze

II  Interplays

III At the Fountainhead of God


The Milky Way is the name for our galaxy. Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks saw a white band of stars in the sky and thought it looked like milk. The word galaxy is derived from the ancient Greek word for milk. 


We all began life on milky ways. Milky, as the bronze-sheathed infant gaze halts and entices the Fountainhead of God to flow. The bubbling life force nourishes but is also the greatest of all forms of tenderness, closeness and primitive interaction. The skill we have practised in the secrecy of the womb lapses with the passing of the years, but the interplay it has generated never deserts us – it is the love that sustains us even after the final departure. Transporting us through the concerto is the hypnotic sound of the cor anglais that soars from Mother Earth to the celestial Milky Way; to the sweet, solid, loving cradle of life.

The Infant Gaze. Afterwaves. The little eyes open a crack, and light is refracted from the milky, bronze-sheathed gaze of the new-born babe.  The gaze makes the woman’s body tingle, like a breath of air sweeping upwards. A little pressure, a little twinge: God releases the flow from the woman’s breast. 

Interplays. On the Milky Way… That initial reflex is now a voluntary skill. A little message, contact, closeness, sometimes just for fun! 

At the Fountainhead of God. Perfect harmony: the source flows from the woman. The babe grows drowsy, falls asleep. The two bodies are as if nested again. The woman dreams she is floating, weightless, in the womb herself, and all of a sudden sees the new-born’s face as through a telescope, as a hologram: a gift from God.

Once while I was composing this piece, I heard that when the soloist, British oboist Nicholas Daniel, was young, his mother committed suicide, and on that day, he had spent half his life without his mother. The concerto accordingly ends with a moving farewell scene polarising the two counterparts birth and death, the two sacred moments in life. I have dedicated the work to Nicholas Daniel in memory of the mother he lost far too early. It was commissioned jointly by the Finnish Radio Symphony, the BBC and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras

- Outi Tarkiainen





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