Cassandra Miller, Thomas Adès
When Sir Simon Rattle took the position of principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 2002, the opening concert was Thomas Adès’ Asyla (1997) and Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. The choice and combination of pieces for this historical event were no coincidence: both works intensely span a multitude of outlooks of reference, exploring and exploiting, like a kaleidoscope, all the potential of the symphonic language of recent centuries.
Alternating between anthropological pessimism and burgeoning vitality, between strangeness and familiarity, the music of Thomas Adès cannot be ignored in the configuration of 21st century canons. His unorthodox views are rooted in the eclectic influence of authors such as Benjamin Britten and Héctor Berlioz, and he views writing as a lighting of paths through interchanged structures. His surrealist look can be found everywhere in his music: a recurring action of approaching and drawing back by listening, a game between opposites that both attract and repel each other, mirrors that overlap and multiply. “Think of the thousands of combinations which we’ve formed, like pawns on a chessboard.” This sentence from his opera The Exterminating Angel (2016) sums up the composer’s aesthetic manifesto like a prophetic maxim.
Based on the shared concept of re-reading and reflecting on the conditions that make creation possible, the programme at L’Auditori featuring Arcadiana (1994), Three Studies from Couperin (2006) and In Seven Days (2008) guarantees an itinerary completed by three major works in its production, which will close in the autumn of 2021 with the premiere of the violin concerto Humouresques, commissioned by L’Auditori in conjunction with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by the author.
The music of Canadian composer Cassandra Miller deliberately steers clear from the idea of creation out of nothing. Her entire production is a constant testing of projections of echoes and shadows of fragments and traces, a temporary composition of found footage. Her starting materials are extremely varied: fragments of recordings, handwritten notes, snippets of scores. Composition involves diluting the reference until it is imperceptible, until the remnants of its aura have been fully removed. This is when a new listening and proximity threshold can be discerned.
Cassandra Miller blurs and dissects the starting point with a meticulous task of cutting out loops and putting them back together in translucent layers. Using a minimalist devising process similar to cinema montage, the disintegration of the references and the contexts in which they are received enable her to project – as in vanitas – a superior reading of all those ephemeral things that vanish, disappear and evaporate. Miller’s music is a great canvas of time where the eruption of space and time coordinates makes it possible to amplify nuances and discover the anatomy of nostalgia based on surviving archetypal sounds. The most basic elements of classical musical rhetoric – the author has a particular predilection for the act of falling or katabasis – become raw and bare. The composer’s visit to L’Auditori provides an unusual opportunity to discover one of today’s most exceptional voices.