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Composed: 2019, 2023

Length: c. 30 minutes

Orchestration: 4 flutes (4th=piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 4 clarinets, 3 bassoons (3rd=contrabassoon), 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, 3 percussion (almglocken, bass drums, chimes, claves, crotales, cymbals, marimba, roto toms, sandpaper blocks, slide whistles, snare drum, tam-tams, Thai nipple gongs, tom-toms, vibraphone, whips, wood tiles), 2 amplified harps, strings, amplified solo flutes, and amplified solo voice and bass

About this Piece

Double Concerto was co-commissioned by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The half-hour composition features soloists esperanza spalding (contrabass and voice), Claire Chase (flute in C, glissando headjoint, alto, and contrabass flutes), and symphony orchestra. The ultimate goal was to (re)interpret the orchestral duo concerto genre in the form of a performer-specific work, which explored aspects of oral, improvisational, written, and electroacoustic musical traditions. However, instead of exposing the soloists’ stylistic differences by creating superficial clashes of style, I favored synthesizing both musicians as a Hydra-like compound soloist. This approach embraces the role of the soloists as unique interpreters from different backgrounds, who are invited to negotiate the otherness of their musical traditions, tendencies, and sensibilities. Furthermore, I explore various aspects of the soloists’ voices in the typically instrumental concerto setting. I employ vocal utterances, breathy noise, and set my own text in Portuguese, which I found in a diary entry from 2002. I also translate physical aspects of the performers’ voices, such as phonemes, consonants, and modulations caused by Claire’s playing and singing simultaneously. I analyze, deconstruct, and interpret samples pre-recorded by the soloists, and transfer aspects of their acoustic profiles into harmonic, timbral, and textural nuances of the orchestra. While the vast majority of the work is notated meticulously notated, improvisation is one of its key aspects. I engage both performers in various degrees of improvisation, from the simple embellishment of a tone, directed moments where the soloists are invited to react to one another, soloing over a given chord or progression, all the way to an entire section in the end of the cadenza, where my hands are off the score and the soloists are finally free to take the music wherever their sensibilities desire. —Felipe Lara