picc.2.2.ca.cl.2bcl.bsn.2cbsn - 4.3.2.btrb.1 - perc(3): 3 BD/6 cowbells/bongos/4 car wheels/3 hi-hat cym/3 snare drum (small/large/piccolo)/3 small/med log drum/taiko drum/metal dustbin/6 wdbl/tam-t/xyl/7 tin can/rototoms - strings
I borrowed the title of this work from a design by the architect Zaha Hadid, made for The Hague Housing Festival in 1991.
Her ‘spiral house’ is essentially a two-part structure: the core of the building is a spiral shaped, concrete floor plate which flows upwards from the entrance on the ground to form upper levels as it completes each circuit. Surrounding the floor plate is a glass cube, which makes the four walls of the house. The glass changes from opaque at ground level through translucent, in the middle, to transparent at the top.
Concertos are also two part structures: solo and tutti. In my piece the glass cube is the tutti, a block of grinding ostinatos and mechanisms in the orchestra. At the top of Zaha Hadid’s house, where the glass is transparent, all four walls can be seen at the same time, and at moments in my concerto you can hear up to eight different mechanisms pulling and pushing against each other.
The solo trumpet (and its accompanying group of orchestral trumpets, oboes and clarinet) are like the concrete floor plate, spiralling up between the glass walls of the orchestra and being reflected in their surfaces.