Extinction Events & Dawn Chorus

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Liza Lim: Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus (2017/18)

Work commissioned for Klangforum Wien by Wittenertage für Neue Kammermusik & with the support of the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund (Australia).
Premiere: 29 April 2018, Witten & 7 May 2018, Vienna

for flute/piccolo, oboe, clarinet/bass clarinet, bassoon/contrabassoon, trumpet, horn, tenor-bass trombone, piano, percussion, violin, ‘cello, double bass
duration: c. 40 minutes

The work is in 5 movements:

  1. Anthropogenic debris
  2. Retrograde inversion
  3. Autocorrect
  4. Transmission
  5. Dawn chorus

Every aesthetic trace, every footprint of an object, sparkles with absence. Sensual things are elegies to the disappearance of objects.
Timothy Morton, Realist Magic

The fairest order in the world is a heap of random sweepings

Vast conglomerations of plastic trash circulate in five gyres in the world’s ocean currents and are ground into toxic fragments that sediment on remote islands and within the fish we eat. Our every-day rubbish shelters hermit crabs even as acid waters dissolve their former shell habitations. Albatrosses scoop up meals of plastic packaging to feed their chicks that then choke and starve as they ingest this colourful non-food.

Like this plastic waste, all time and its traces are with us still, albeit in residual and pulverised states. I have made a music out of heterogeneous relics of the past – a coarse sampling of ‘extinction events’ ranging from the spectral echoes of a creaking 19th century in piano music ‘on an overgrown path’ (Janáček), to a faulty transcription of a recording of the last mating call ever heard of the now extinct Kauai O’o bird, to tracings of a star map that captured the Chinese southern night sky in the 9th century. These time-traces rub against each other in ever-degraded cycles. Fleeting repetitions are pulsations of disappearance and point to the uncertainties of human memory and its collapse in abject forgetting.

There is broken grandeur and there are attempts to sing.

There is the uncanny dawn chorus of the fish-life that populates an endangered Australian coral reef.

Time breathes out an improbable hope.

How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea?
Shakespeare, Sonnet No. 65

  • Shanghai, 20 December 2017

*update: The recording by Klangforum Wien conducted by Peter Rundel with Sophie Schafleitner is published by Kairos. More info & Spotify tracksCD cover

Performance FAQs see: https://lizalimcomposer.com/extinction-events-and-dawn-chorus-faqs/

Performance history

1) 29 April 2018, PREMIERE: Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus, Klangforum Wien conducted by Peter Rundel, violin solo Sophie Schafleitner, Wittenertage für neue Musik, Witten, Germany

2) 7 May 2018, Klangforum Wien cond. Peter Rundel, Sophie Schafleitner, violin, Mozart Saal, Wiener Konzerthaus, Vienna

3) 14 Feb 2020, Riot Ensemble, Sarah Saviet (violin) cond. Aaron Holloway-Nahum, Kings Place London, YouTube

26 April 2020, ELISION Ensemble, ISCM festival, Auckland, New Zealand [cancelled due to pandemic]

4) 20 Sept 2020, Klangforum Wien, Sophie Schafleitner, cond. Johannes Kalitzke, Klangspuren Festival, Innsbruck

5) 2 Oct 2020, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra cond. Peter Rundel, Musica Viva season, Herkulesaal der Residenz, Munich

1 Feb 2021, ARTéfacts Ensemble cond. Faidra Giannelou, Onassis Stegi, Athens [cancelled due to pandemic]

6) 2 Feb 2021, NYKY Ensemble conducted by David Claudio, Musica Nova Helsinki, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki 

24 Sept 2021, Riot Ensemble conducted Aaron Holloway-Nahum, Ensems Festival, Martín i Soler Theatre of Palau de Les Arts, Valencia, Spain [cancelled due to pandemic]

25 Sept 2021, Riot Ensemble conducted Aaron Holloway-Nahum, Ensems Festival, Auditori and Palau de Congressos in Castellón, Spain [cancelled due to pandemic]

7) 20 Nov 2021, Ensemble des Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra (LFCO) conducted by Mariano Chiacchiarini, Marina Kifferstein (violin), Konzertsaal, Lucerne Festival – Forward Festival, Lucerne

8) 23 March 2022, Klangforum Wien conducted by Leonhard Garms, Sarah Saviet, violin, Maerzmusik Berlinerfestspiele, Kammermusiksaal Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin

9) 4 June 2022, Wavefield Ensemble, conducted by Nicholas DeMaison, DiMenna Centre, New York, Vimeo video

10) 19 June 2022, Riot Ensemble, Sarah Saviet (violin), cond. Aaron Holloway Nahum, Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh Festival, UK

11) 24 June 2022, Ensamble CEPROMUSIC conducted by José Luis Castillo, Carlos Lot, violin, Sala Manuel M. Ponce del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City

12) 4 September 2022, Ensamble CEPROMUSIC conducted by José Luis Castillo, Carlos Lot, violin, Auditorio de la Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City

13) 5 November 2022, Liza Lim Portrait, Season start of Ensemble Phoenix, Gare du Nord, conductor, Jürg Henneberger, Basel

14) 6 November 2022, Liza Lim Portrait Ensemble Phoenix, Gare du Nord, conductor, Jürg Henneberger, Basel

15) 20 November 2022, Ensamble CEPROMUSIC 10th Anniversary concert, conducted by José Luis Castillo, Carlos Lot, violin, Sala Principal del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City. Youtube documentation

16) 4 December 2022, Crash Ensemble 25th Anniversary concert conducted by Ryan McAdams, National Concert Hall, Dublin

17) 7 February 2023, Klangforum Wien conducted by Johannes Kalitzke, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA

18) 20 April 2023, ELISION Ensemble conducted by Aaron Cassidy, Harry Ward, violin, Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, Australia

19) 28 May 2023, Spoleto Festival Ensemble conducted by John Kennedy, Spoleto Festival, Charleston, USA

20) 20 June 2023, Philharmonischen Orchester Freiburg with ensemble recherche conducted by André de Ridder, Theatre Freiburg, Freiburg

21) July 2023, Riot Ensemble conducted by Aaron Holloway-Nahum, Sarah Saviet, violin, Time of Music, Viitasaari, Finland

22) 19 Sept 2023, Ensemble Remix conducted by Peter Rundel, Ashot Sarkissjan, violin, Casa da Musica, Porto

  1. […] have several ‘in the flesh’ performances of my music coming up. My large 40-minute work Extinction Events and Dawn Chorus (2018) will be performed by the group that premiered and recorded it, Ensemble Klangforum Wien, […]

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