"...48 individual mothers, each rocking a child to sleep.” Cassandra Miller

Cassandra Miller’s Round (2017) for orchestra receives a performance at BOZAR in Brussels on 18 June, conducted by longstanding Miller advocate Ilan Volkov.

The 10-minute piece draws on the legacy of recorded music, like many of Miller’s compositions. In Round the melody is a replica of that used by the great Catalan cellist Gaspar Cassadó in his recording of Tchaikovsky’s Valse Sentimentale, and Miller’s transcription evokes Cassadó’s inimitable phrasing and rubato. The waltz rhythm is fundamental to the piece, elaborated and extended across individual groups of strings, which “radiate like spokes of a wheel behind each first-desk player”. The orchestra’s four trumpets are arranged antiphonally on balconies to either side of the ensemble.

Round also has a gentle, soothing effect, Miller noting in the score that the “members of the orchestra are treated as soloists, and can be invited to feel as if they are 48 individual mothers, each rocking a child to sleep.”

Ilan Volkov has a longstanding relationship with Miller’s music. In May he conducted the world premiere of her latest orchestral work, co-composed with Silvia Tarozzi, Bismillah Meets the Creator in Springtime at Tectonics in Glasgow. Previously he premiered and recorded her Duet for cello and orchestra with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; you can hear Volkov and Miller in conversation here on the Halas Audio ‘At Home’ podcast.  

The concert is performed by musicians from the Brussels Philharmonic and ensemble Ictus, as part of a programme titled A Walk into the Future, “a wild trip between deep cosmic meditation and delicious futuristic kitsch”. Details can be found here.