Strange Attractor

for orchestra

Richard Emsley

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for orchestra

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Composer Richard Emsley



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Catalogue ID ce-re2sa1


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Commissioned by the BBC and first performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov at City Halls Glasgow in May 2016 as part of the 2016 Tectonics Festival.

An ‘attractor’ is a geometric representation of oscillatory behaviour within a closed system. Some attractors represent real objects, such as a swinging pendulum, while others, such as Lorenz’ ‘strange’ or ‘chaotic’ attractor, are unrelated to reality, existing only as mysterious mathematical abstractions. How does this relate to my piece? Hardly atall, other than as a metaphor – a loose imaginative association between the music’s never-resolving oscillations and the haunting, butterfly-like images of ‘strange attractors’.