Falling in the Fire

for solo violoncello and orchestra

Charlotte Bray

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for solo violoncello and orchestra

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Composer Charlotte Bray
Year of Composition 2015
Duration ca.21'



Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-cb1fitf1


On that eventful morning in August 2015, when I began working on the cello concerto, I abandoned my celestial muse and eloped with a more earthly form. Suddenly, I found myself an unexpected but strangely willing hostage to reality. All the ideas that had framed the structure for an astronomical piece disappeared down their own black-hole as the emotional impact of real events overtook me.

I had read the devastating news over breakfast- ISIS had destroyed the ancient city of Palmyra including the historic and Hellenistic First Temple of Bal and the Temple of Baalshamin, dating from 323-31 BC. Deeply moved and horrified by this seemingly pointless act of vandalism, my musical creativity took a new direction.

I started to research and discovered that Palmyra originated as a stop-off for weary, dust-covered travellers crossing the Syrian desert. I learned also about its varied and tumultuous past: as an ancient Greek civilisation, subsequently converted to Christianity in the Byzantine era (330-1450 AD), altered by the Arabs in 1132 and almost totally destroyed by the Timurids in 1400; leaving the ruins with which we became familiar. Although their destruction inevitably formed the focal point of the news, this barbaric act did little to deflect attention away from the human horror and suffering being endured in the region. In terms of motivation, the razing of the temples provided an inception for the work, the emerging humanitarian crises forming its body.

The use of moral outrage as a motivation for art, although new to me, provided a means by which I could both seek to comprehend such tragic and traumatic events and create something to which others may equally relate. The desire to situate the work in real events was, I felt, overwhelming and also important. That said, the piece is entirely an abstract reflection of the situation, and on conflict in its wider sense. Power, identity, religion, humanity and territory are equally as important to the motivation behind the piece. It is ultimately, an exploration through the means at my creative disposal- through sound and imagination- and is not programmatic in any sense.

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