Commissioned by Ensemble intercontemporain for their second annual Tremplin de la création project
Duration: ca. 10'
First performed: March 11, 2023 at the Philharmonie de Paris by Ensemble intercontemporain (dir. Toby Thatcher)
interferer began with the idea of a piece finding its way from frantic, nervous virtuosity to calmer, more spacious textures. This journey between two sonic extremes dominates the first half of the piece—skittish, agitated woodwinds gradually soften and deepen after interactions with the celesta and harp, which initially enter with equal vehemence before the music gives way to an expansive piano solo, accompanied by strings. As I wrote, however, I found myself resisting this trajectory, finding it too simplistic, and likely to give the piece a cliched triumph-over-adversity theme if I wasn’t careful. Responding to this resistance, I had the idea of introducing a third, intrusive texture to which the title refers: an unwelcome guest that overrides the dialogue between the two contrasting textures, represented by a thunder sheet throughout the piece. In the piece’s latter half, this “interferer” colors the material it surrounds with a newfound sense of intensity and suspense, until it completely overwhelms the ensemble and directs the music towards an abrupt, brutal conclusion.