voyage for orchestra
Full Orchestra
3(II=picc.III=picc+afl).3.3(III=bcl).2.contraforte(or cbsn with low A) – 4(or 8).ptpt.3.3.1(contrabass if possible) – timp – perc(6): mar/vib/glsp/t.bells/crot/wood chimes/shell chimes/tam-t/BD – 2 harp – pno(=cel) – strings

Commissioned by the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, for the opening of the New World Centre. Partnered by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam; the New York Philharmonic (Alan Gilbert, Music Director); the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; The Barbican, London; the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony

First Performance
26.1.2011, New World Centre, Miami, FL, USA: New World Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas

Score 0571536824 on sale, parts for hire

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Programme Notes

Thomas Adès' new work is scored for orchestra including groups of brass instruments which may be isolated from the stage. These instruments always play in canon, once in each of the three sections of the piece, entering in order from the highest (trumpets) to the lowest (bass tuba). Their melody, like all the music in this work, is derived from a magnetic series, a musical device heard here for the first time, in which all twelve notes are gradually presented, but persistently return to an anchoring pitch, as if magnetised. With the first appearance of the twelfth note, marked clearly with the first entrance of the timpani, the poles are reversed. At the start of the third and final section a third pole is discovered which establishes a stable equilibrium with the first. 

The piece is named for Polaris, the North Star, or Pole Star, around which the other stars appear to rotate as if it were itself a magnetic pole, and which has since ancient times been used by seafarers as a navigational tool. 

Polaris - Voyage for orchestra was composed for the opening of the New World Symphony's new hall at Miami Beach, Florida, designed by Frank Gehry, and the first performance took place on January 26, 2011 under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas.

© Philip Jones, 2010

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

Adès LSO Focus

Asyla, Tevot, Brahms and Polaris feature in two concerts conducted by the composer Read more

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