On 18 April Asko|Schönberg and Clark Rundell premiere Tansy Davies’ Canopies of Liquid Light, at Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw. The 24-minute ensemble work was commissioned by Asko|Schönberg.

Scored for the same forces as Steve Reich’s City Life, with live electronics, Canopies of Liquid Light is cast in five sections. The title, Davies says, is "a kind of poem that came to me in meditation...gazing up into a complex canopy of trees and receiving a kind of divine light through the combined glow of green leaves and sunlight...I imagine the light expanding in other dimensions; a liquid quality, perhaps relating to the water retained by trees and the vapours and oils released by leaves into the atmosphere; a heady mix of liquid and light."

‘Sacred Geometry’ opens the work, a reflection of the earthy spirituality of Davies’ music, marked ‘Infinite, Majestic, Funky’. Colourful writing for the three percussionists underpins the work; it opens with a clamorous cascade from a pair of vibraphones – virtuosity redolent of her 2022 percussion and ensemble work Stone Codes, written for Konstantyn Napolov and Orkest de Ereprjis.

Davies’ eclectic cultural and musical imagination is on display throughout, invoking cosmic and mythic figures in sections titled ‘Metatron’s Dance’ and ‘Pulsar’; the closing pages of the score ask the performers to channel Nigerian composer, bandleader and activist Fela Kútì. ‘Tectonic Skates’ recalls the subterranean, geological inspiration often found in Davies’ work. These elements combine to create music that feels both celestial and grounded, at once groovy and ritualistic.

Canopies of Liquid Light continues Davies’ relationship with Asko|Schönberg. In 2019 they premiered Davies’ Soul Canoe, a 20-minute work for ten players conducted by Tom Goff - the culmination of her season-long residency at the Concertgebouw. It premiered alongside Davies’ salt box – an 11-minute work for eleven players from 2005. In 2014 Asko|Schönberg also performed her ensemble work neon (2004) at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, conducted by Clark Rundell.

April 2024 sees a further world premiere from Davies. The Ice Core Sample Says is a setting of a poem by Nick Drake – librettist for Davies’ operas Between Worlds (2014) and Cave (2018) – for mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska and pianist Joseph Middleton which will debut at Leeds Lieder on 20 April. The 11-minute song gives voice to deep, ancient ice - that of the core samples taken from ice sheets or glaciers. Core drills bring up samples of ice up to 800,000 years old; their layers encode the history of the climate. Accordingly, Davies notes, the ice “sees all of time all at once and speaks warnings from pre-history and the beyond.”