Dreamland (large orchestra)

(2011)

by Valgeir Sigurðsson

Description
large orchestra and electronics (with optional film)
Duration
32
Genres
Electronics with Live Performers, Full Orchestra, Silent Film
Text
'Grýlukvæði' text by Stefán Ólafsson í Vallarnesi (1619-1688)
Instrumentation
3(III=picc+afl).2.ca.3(III=bcl).3(III=cbsn) – 4331 – perc(4): xyl/mar/t.bells/glsp/2 BD/tom-t/tam-t/hi-hat/shaker/TD/high wdbl/large metal kitchen-bowl with small bells – harp – pno(=cel) – tape – strings
Languages
Icelandic
First Performance
FP: 30.04.2016, Hilbert Circle Theatre (Indianapolis, IN, USA): Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Jayce Ogren
Availability

Score, parts and audio files for hire. Film available for hire from Bedroom Community.

Programme Notes
The book Dreamland was written during a time in Icelandic society when dissidents gained power in the fields of privatization, energy and foreign affairs. This revolution was a quiet one, a “peaceful” one, and many considered it to be sensible and furthermore, inevitable. The creation of Dreamland can thus be traced back to 1999. When the world at large seemed to be moving towards new technology, new methods of communication and generally a more environmentally friendly mentality, the Icelandic government decided to invite companies and corporations of questionable reputation to come to Iceland, to take advantage of - and eventually destroy - many of the country’s most valuable resources. Because of Alcoa and the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Project the production of energy in Iceland was doubled in 2002, and was expected to double yet again with the additional destruction of waterfalls and geothermal areas. From the start I was determined to write poetry, plays and fiction, but the material began to accumulate in my mind as each day something seemed to be going wrong in in Iceland and maybe on the planet in general. We should know by now that war is never worth it, but instead our government made the choice to support the war in Iraq. In a way the quality of life in Iceland had never been better, but after privitisation of the fisheries and national banks an elite began to take shape - a small group of people that would own billions and billions. We wanted to grasp huge issues in this documentary, we travelled around the country in a helicopter, searched in news archives, observed the birds fight for their offspring. We captured footage of politicians and representatives of larger corporations during “mating season”. But how would it all sound? What leitmotifs would bring the chapters of the film together, what feeling would the music evoke? What resonates with a Caterpillar digger, a private jet and flying over a beautiful, doomed landscape? It was clear that the music needed to span a vast territory - melancholic strings and deep, sonorous electro-vibes could act as a foreshadowing of impending disaster. Without making the audience feel manipulated, tension needed to be created to underline, to accent, to enhance or temper the film’s effect in the appropriate places. After receiving a copy of the film without sound, Valgeir Sigurðsson watched it in his Greenhouse studio; seeing what would start to take shape in his head. He proceeded to write the basic theme and then summoned to his side musicians like Nico Muhly, Sam Amidon, Ben Frost and other friends of this odd Greenhouse. One could say that the essence of their approach to the score can be found in the Icelandic folksong “Grýlukvæði”: something is off and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what. There is a distortion, a din and a defamiliarizing quality that is difficult to put into words. Flying over the Fljótsdalur waterfalls that are no longer there, a solitary viola is our guide, and we can sense the threat. The music creates an intense atmosphere when we fly over the sand pyramids on Vatnajökull, in the direction of an area that is to be destroyed because of a short-term gold rush. The shrill brass tones resonate and contrast the heavy, impenetrable silence. It was a privilege to be allowed to come to the studio and give my feedback on the first drafts. At moments like these the director experiences the magic of his trade: to be able to have no musical talent him- or herself but to be able to offer raw material and emotions to the composer that will make it into music; music which will then be separable from the visuals and be able to exist independently. Ideally you only need to see the film once - but through the music you can experience it again and again. Andir Snær Magnason 2009

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