"I imagine someone flying an orchestra in to play on their lawn, a large fountain burbles, party goers stand on gravel and murmur over them". Oliver Leith
Pearly, woody, goldy, bloody, or, Abundance by Oliver Leith receives its first performance on 18 June at the 2022 London Contemporary Music Festival at the Fireworks Factory in Woolwich. Leith’s 11-minute piece is his first purely orchestral work since 2013’s Taxa. It was commissioned by the London Contemporary Music Festival, and will be conducted by Jack Sheen, a regular Leith collaborator and the musical director for Leith’s new chamber opera Last Days, which opens at the Royal Opera House in October.
“The titles's format”, Leith says “is a nod to those twee 18th century novels that have many titles - 'the plights of x or y’s pitiful life'. The words are materials or means of attaining luxury in some form.” Luxury is key to the piece, Leith says. “I imagine someone flying an orchestra in to play on their lawn, a large fountain burbles, party goers stand on gravel and murmur over them, no matter the jubilance of the music.”
“I wanted the bones of the piece to sound like the layman's orchestra, to be as close to an impression anyone might do of an orchestra. The instrumental writing is plain: lots of unisons, the only percussion are timpani, the orchestration is stripped back and classical. From there we go elsewhere: it droops and fuzzes.”
As in 2019’s Uh huh, Yeah Leith calls on the musicians to use their voices as well as their instruments, mumbling at various points in the piece. “It should sound like a sort of over-mannered and deflated party”, Leith says in the score; by the end it is “slurred, end of night, passing out”. As with many of Leith’s pieces, it picks up on the overlooked or even banal details of everyday life.