“...a concerto of sorts...”

On Sunday 1 May Ilan Volkov conducts the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of Bismillah meets the Creator in Springtime from Cassandra Miller and Silvia Tarozzi, as part of the 2022 Tectonics festival at the Glasgow City Halls. The 22-minute piece for two soloists – Miller and Tarozzi will sing, play an amplified violin, and toy trumpets – and large spatialised ensemble with recorded sounds was made possible by a Research & Creation grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Miller’s work often makes its starting point the transcription and reimagination of recorded music, and Bismillah is no exception. Miller draws on a recording of the shehnai player Bismillah Khan performing the Raag Malkauns, music by J.S. Bach, and 32-minute saxophone epic The Creator Has a Master Plan by Pharaoh Sanders from his 1969 album Karma. The springtime of the title is “when rivers are most full, welcoming us (and you dear listener) to be carried on something greater than ourselves”.

Miller and Tarozzi call Bismillah Meets the Creator in Springtime “a concerto of sorts”, reflecting their years of friendship. “It is a collage which speaks to the history of our playful and joyful working methods”, they write, “with much music exchanged, overlapped and transformed.” The spatial positioning of the musicians is crucial to the piece: they are grouped in duos who, at times, play independently of one another.

Ilan Volkov is one of Miller's most important supporters, having previously premiered her cello and orchestra work Duet with the BBC SSO at the 2018 edition of Tectonics. On 18 June he will conduct Round for orchestra with the Brussels Philharmonic. You can hear Cassandra Miller in conversation with Ilan Volkov on the Halas Audio ‘At Home’ podcast here.

Details of this performance at Tectonics here.