Out to Infinity
Out to Infinity (2008)
Commissioned by the 2009 International Harp Contest for their 50th Anniversary.
Duration: 7 minutes
The composition Out to Infinity, for solo harp, was written in January 2008, during which time I was in Queensland, Australia. Imagine to yourselves, arriving in a place very distant from your usual place, and you are there, as if in a dream. Time stands frozen, and the place is so beautiful that it is as if it were the entrance to the Garden of Eden. But, despite this, you feel disconnected, somewhat afraid and longing. The imaginings and thoughts in such a lonely and quiet place are to infinity.
Out to Infinity is a single movement, comprising short images which are built together to form a complete whole. It begins with the chord Prelude, a dissonant cluster played with fortissimo on the lowest strings of the harp. The playing instructions are to create a physical collision of the strings so as to render the sonority more dissonant.
Like an echo, appearing after a loud mysterious noise of whose origin you are not aware, so the composition begins in The Hidden Wisdom. It is as if simulating a heart beat, ticking quickly perhaps from fright or astonishment. A group of two chromatic minor thirds, that are intentionally divided to single plucking sounds in each hand (to create as much staccato as is possible for the harp), portrays the mysterious atmosphere. Hidden fragments of melody appear within the slowly changing and developing atmosphere -initially from the high octave, subsequently on another scale in a lower octave and finally in contra-punct between them (Bars 6-7). A return to the opening atmosphere appears in the ninth bar, however, this time the group is arranged differently with each hand playing a minor second. Woven within the mysterious atmosphere is a soft melody, which is the Kind and Gentle Voice that emerges from hiding, hurrying to dwindle and expiring into the development of the motif from the initial atmosphere. Immediately afterwards the repetitive pattern of 7/32 (3+2+2) appears. This will return and appear later, each time in a lower octave and symbolizes Infinity.
Fragments Of Dance (bars 13-19), presents an ironic picture of tension and joy, like dancing in happiness on burning coals. The chords, built from tritons with the right hand and minor seconds with the left, are played in the rhythm of a broken dance. Bar 20, clearly presents the Infinity motif. Later, (bar 21), a new voice appears. An eastern melody in the structure of a question (The Men's Group) and answer (Women's Group), played in typical unison. The mysterious picture re-appears in Time Stands Frozen which is interrupted by a flash of madness – Disturbed (end of 27). The mysterious image resumes and the soft melody of The Kind and Gentle Voice is woven within. Again, it dwindles, interrupted by as fast as possible (bar 32).
Two dissonant chords within a pedal glissando effect are played: once again the low strings clash against each other with intensity (bar 33). Then, there is a flash from the hallucinatory Fragments of Dance (bars 34-7) leading to the Prayer Dance - a melody that is a prayer, introduced as a dance rhythm with a combination of beats of 3+3+2+2 and containing 2 parts. The first part is played in harmonics (bars 38-48) and the second is in the style of Bartok pizzicato (bars 49-57). In bar 60 the dissonance appears again, immediately followed by a short abstract picture of The Calm After The Storm (bar 62-66). In sharp contrast, The Women's Rejoicing and a dialogue between the Women's Group and the Mens Group takes place as a continuation and conclusion of the eastern melody that appeared earlier.
The composition ends with a final development of the infinity motif (bar 74) and the hidden motif from the beginning. The harpist quietly descends down the register of the harp until they can physically go no further. The pattern repeats to infinity, beyond the physical 'end' of the harp to the spiritual no end (infinity) of the imagination.
Many thanks to harpist Gittit Boasson for her help in editing the composition