'Asyla defines its own space, fills it so satisfyingly and confidently, that it becomes an overwhelming and exhilerating experience.' BBC Music Magazine


3(II+III=picc.III=bfl).3(II=ca.III=bob.ca ad lib).3(I+II=Bb+A.II=bcl.III=cbcl).3(III=cbsn) – 4.3(III=ptpt).2.btrbn.1 – perc(6): 5 or 6 timp/3 or 4 rototom/5 finger drum or bongo/2 bell plate/tuned c.bells/4 t.bells/ch.cym/2 hi-hat/3 tins/geophone/2 water gong/2 ratchet/washboard/11 tuned gong/2 susp.cym/choke.cym/2 SD/sandpaper blocks/bag of metal knives & forks/glsp/cyms/BD/crot/BD+pedal – harp – keyboards(2): I=grand pno/upright pno.II=upright pno (tuned ¼ tone flat)/grand pno/cel – strings (


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Programme Notes

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'It was a cracker… a stunning array of original sounds… Asyla is a little masterpiece.'
The Times (​Richard Morrison), 31 August 1998

'The inventive energy of the music drives the work. The imagery is so vivid and apparently so explicit.'
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 4 October 1997

'Adès’ fertile invention and cunning manipulation of a mammoth ensemble have established Asyla as a work of striking originality… Under the composer’s baton its elements of propulsion and suspense were clothed in a radiant orchestral fabric.
The Daily Telegraph (Geoffrey Norris), 16 August 1999
'It is a thrilling, original work… The orchestra worked brilliantly to master its frenetic rhythms and eerie textures… The effect was exuberant, noisy, disconcerting and intriguing.'
The Times (Richard Morrison), 9 September 2002
'The musical language is virile and pungent. Echoes and influences…mix and meld, transformed by Adès’ alchemy into a sonic landscape of ferocious beauty and constant surprises.'
The Times (Geoff Brown), 16 August 1999
'Adès delights the ear… A symphony in all but name, it is totally original, uncompromisingly serious, utterly of our time and a teasing, tingling delight to the ear. This is music that orchestras are going to want to play, and audiences to hear, again and again… Asyla represents a quantum leap. While embodying his familiar sense of adventure, fluency and invention, is does so in a weighty four-movement sequence of breathtaking confidence and scale.'
Financial Times (Andrew Clark), 3 October 1997
'His music is a layering of events that shows a tremendous sophistication, from the gamelan-like clanging bells at the very opening to the wild, restless trumpet solo at the end of the first movement, to the finale… Asyla is music with an eerie, compelling beauty from a composer we will surely be hearing much from.'
Star Tribune (Michael Anthony), 21 November 1997
'It is an unflinching and profound work – easy to see why Rattle is attached to it… Most of the audience were also hyperventilating as it furiously built on its own remorseless momentum.'
The Guardian (Alan Rusbridger), 9 September 2002
'Adès tests extravagances in Asyla and takes the audience along as voyeurs. He plunges into his own psyche, obsessing on weird sounds, luxuriant melodies and captivating rhythms. His is inward music and music of the outside world at the same time.'
Los Angeles Times (Mark Swed), 5 June 2000
'A brilliantly achieved piece, in which Adès explores a sound-world whose influences range from Ligetian disjointedness to Ravelisan sensualism, but which never sounds merely derivative.'
The Sunday Times (Stephen Pettitt), 6 June 1999


Koerner Hall, Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto, ON, Canada)

Alex Pauk/Esprit Orchestra


Helsinki Music Centre (Helsinki, Finland)

Pekka Kuusisto/Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Adès

Find Out More


Japanese premiere of Polaris

Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall (Tokyo, Japan)

Ryusuke Numajiri/Tatsuki Narita/Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra


Konserthuset (Malmö, Sweden)

Malmö Symphony Orchestra/Robert Trevino


Tanglewood Music Center (Lenox, MA, USA)

Tanglewood Festival Orchestra/Thomas Adès