Works > Señales


Homenaje a Jonathan Harvey
Written in:
Violin Concerto: for flute (=piccolo=bass flute), Bb clarinet (+ A cl., bass cl.), horn, cimbalom, percussion (2 players), harp, viola, cello, double bass
Commisioned by

Commissioned by Miller Theatre for their Portrait concert series 2012.


Premiered on 12th May 2012 by Irvine Arditti, violin, Ensemble Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman at the Portrait series of Miller Theatre in Columbia University in New York.

Programme Note

Musical performance has a lot to do with signs or signals, with señales, whether cues, indications from a conductor, or the printed propositions of the score, to all of which a musician has to respond immediately and purposefully. The product of musical performance – music – is itself loaded with signals, which we as listeners are invited to construe. In doing so, we may well feel that many of the signals are not directed only to us, but that we are witnessing the music’s signalling to itself: calling ahead, answering back, opening a new course or blocking it, making a demand or reviving a memory.

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In the case of this piece, through twenty minutes of mostly fast music, we have a rush of such signals, outward and inward – and onward – projected by and to the dashing solo violin, with alertness and virtuosity just as vital right through the ensemble, which comprises three each of winds (flute, clarinet, and horn), strings (viola, cello, and bass), and plucked or struck instruments (harp, cimbalom doubling vibraphone and marimba, and percussion). Melodies or exuberant flourishes may involve quarter-tones; noise effects, especially on the wind instruments, are also part of the ceaseless flow of gestures, of señales.

– Paul Griffiths