Héloïse Werner and Laurence Osborn featured in CBSO's Sounds New

27 January 2023

As part of their centenary celebrations, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra have commissioned new works by 20 of “the most exciting new voices”. Among those commissioned are two Rayfield Allied artists, Laurence Osborn and Héloïse Werner, whose new compositions will be brought to life at 2:30pm on Sunday 29th January at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

Laurence Osborn on his work The Biggest Thing I’ve Ever Squashed:

“The Biggest Thing I’ve Ever Squashed takes its name from an interview with the artist Cornelia Parker. She’s talking about a sousaphone which she flattened with an industrial press in order to make her piece Perpetual Canon. Perpetual Canon is a mobile made from suspended flattened brass instruments which have been arranged in the round and backlit onto the walls of the space in silhouette. The Biggest Thing I’ve Ever Squashed begins with six bars of a march, which are repeated and gradually ‘squashed’ in various ways, before being exploded into fragments and arranged into a sort of structural mobile. Music is heard both in its original and shadow forms. At the end, remaining fragments are re-arranged into a new march, which carries the piece to its conclusion. Like Cornelia Parker’s sousaphone, the six bars of orchestral march that open the piece are the biggest thing I’ve ever squashed.”

Héloïse Werner on her work crossings:

“My piece ‘crossings’ consists of a series of swells which rise and fall opposingly from the voice and the orchestra, constantly overlapping and crossing paths. Each time the voice swells up, the orchestra swells down, and vice versa. Throughout the piece, the waves get shorter and shorter, eventually culminating in a final swell where the voice gets completely engulfed by the orchestral sonorities. The starting point for the piece was very much my own voice – I explored some initial vocal patterns and eventually developed three main motifs; these form the basis of the work. All the material that is played in the orchestra is derived from these motifs and is written in direct response to the vocal lines.”

CBSO presents Sounds New at Symphony Hall, Birmingham on Sunday 29th January at 2:30pm.

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