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
  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
Herakleitos

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

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

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

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]

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

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]

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]

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

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

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

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

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

4 September 2022, Ensamble CEPROMUSIC conducted by José Luis Castillo, Auditorio de la Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City

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

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

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

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

February 2023, Klangforum Wien, US tour (2 dates tbc)

20 April 2023, ELISION Ensemble conducted by Aaron Cassidy, Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne, Australia

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

July 2023, Finland, details tbc

  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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