for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, marimba and piano

Oliver Iredale Searle

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for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, marimba and piano

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Composer Oliver Iredale Searle
Year of Composition 2004 rev. 2018
Duration ca.12'
Instrumentation Flute, Clarinet In Bb, Violin, Violoncello, Marimba, Piano
Categories (all composers) , , , , ,
Catalogue ID ce-os1d2


While spending some time in London, I witnessed a courier being knocked off his bicycle in Leicester Square by a car. I had been reading a book by Tad Williams, entitled, “Otherworld” at the time (a mediocre sci-fi book), which detailed newsflashes of events in the future, between chapters. One of these events was the latest in cultural developments, which consisted of an artist causing a fatal car accident, which became his latest art installation. He instantly became a fugitive from the law. I began to think how macabre this would be if someone had used the courier as an artistic experiment (I never found out what happened to him). On returning to Glasgow, whilst walking on a usual route, I saw a piece of graffiti I had never noticed before, which simply read: “Courier Deathletics”.

Subsequently, I considered musical comparisons in recreating such an installation (none of which were practical, or ethical). I settled on problematising something I deemed to be sacred: the music of Scott Joplin, which I grew up playing on the piano (and which actually fuelled my interest in music, which otherwise would have waned), as well as the actual instrument itself.

I have long found composing for piano in ensembles and orchestras problematic. I find it difficult to write for my own instrument, partly because it is usually so different from others in chamber groups (both physically and sonically), but also as it is so often portrayed as a soloistic instrument, or as an accompaniment to something else. I both love and loathe the eternal rubato that manifests itself in many a concert pianist’s performance, where it is occasionally impossible to pin down any sense of pulse. In this piece, it explores the roles of both soloist and accompanist, repeatedly defiling its ragtime melody and failing miserably to fulfil its destiny.

Written for the New Music Players; first performance, 11th March, 2005, Glasgow.

For Gordon McPherson; with thanks and appreciation.