Eighteen Minutes (version for concert-pitch basses)

concerto for two solo double basses and strings

Kevin Malone

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concerto for two solo double basses and strings

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Composer Kevin Malone
Year of Composition 2003
Duration ca.18'
ISMN 9790570683369

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-km1em2


Please note the ‘full score and parts’ set for this work comprises of one of each string part. The ‘string parts supplement’ adds additional ensemble parts ( for larger ensembles. Please contact us if you require further materials for larger string orchestras.

The title Eighteen Minutes refers to the duration of time between the airplane collisions into the two towers of the World Trade Center, New York USA on 11 September 2001. The music is constructed in 18 equal sections, which are composed from 10 phrases each being 18″ in duration, or 18 phrases of 10″ each. The opening tempo is crotchet/quarter note =180 (10 x 18), and the entire piece contains 504 bars which is (18 x 10) + (18 x 18). Each phrase of the opening section contains 360 (2 x (10 x 18)) pitches in the accompaniment. The closing two sections contain 18 cadences: 9 imperfect cadences followed by 9 perfect cadences. Finally, if the specified metronome tempos are heeded precisely, the piece would last exactly 18 minutes.  Although the numerology is audible and has genuine sonic integrity, the drama of the musical narrative is the artistic focus.

The soloists play material drawn from the pitches and rhythms of exclamations of witnesses caught on videotape at the moment of the collision with the first tower. Further material is derived from radio broadcasters minutes later, attempting to communicate the confusion of that moment.  Most of the material directly follows the actual speed and sound of the voices, and so the soloists could play in complete musical unison with video tape and radio broadcasts of the voices of startled New Yorkers.

The entire piece is a passacaglia and a chaconne. The opening is a rock-and-roll perpetuo moto at dizzying speed which introduces the first recorded vocalised pitch-rhythms (“Holy shit!”) by a witness of the first plane collision. The soloists then play pitch-rhythms from exclamations by radios broadcasters with the string orchestra producing siren sounds.  The final part is a slow-motion — almost freeze-frame — lament with nine ineffective conclusions.

Eighteen Minutes was premiered in April 2003 at the 13th International Festival of Contemporary Music in Kiev, Ukraine with support from the American Embassy of Ukraine. Its UK premiere was a week later at BassFest held at the Purcell School London with soloists David Heyes and Peter Leerdam with the Bernardi Ensemble conducted by the composer.  The Dutch premiere was in 2004 at the Pelgrimsvaderkerk Rotterdam with soloists Heyes and Leerdam and Concerto Rotterdam conducted by Igor Gruppman.

It is recorded on Métier MSVCD92106 with soloists David Heyes and Dan Styffe with the New World Ensemble conducted by the composer. In September 2016, Naxos chose Eighteen Minutes for its Top 15 Must-Listen list out of 2 million tracks. 

“An impressive and entirely satisfying work, brilliantly realised”. – Musicweb-International

” Draws you in immediately and holds your attention. It has real energy”. – The Strad

A version of this work for high-pitch basses is also available on Composers Edition.