(2016) For Orchestra
Duration: 9 minutes
3(III=picc).3.3(III=bcl).2.cbsn - 4.3.2.btrbn.1 - timp - perc(3): 5 bell plates/susp.cym/crot (+db bow)/Tam-t/vib(+db bow)/med. nipple gong - strings
World Premiere: 23.2.17, City Halls, Glasgow: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
Commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
“Inspired by Scottish poet Robin Robertson’s Finding the Keys, this piece was an ethereally beautiful exploration of the transient nature of the wind and its interactions with the natural world.” Herald Scotland “very atmospheric…magical…powerful” Seen and Heard International “With sumptuous Russian music dominating this BBC SSO programme, the breeziness of Edmund Finnis’s The Air, Turning made for an ideal opener. Conductor Ilan Volkov gradually built up the full spectrum of string sound, from the bottom bass notes to eerie violin harmonics, which was then finely smudged with woodwind and brass colour.” The Scotsman
The Air, Turning
The individual elements of this piece are predominantly very simple. Patterns of sound are made up of interwoven instrumental lines that variously rise or fall, remain fixed or form arcs. Blocks of sound colour approach and recede across a background haze of softly shimmering metallic percussion and ephemeral string harmonics. As these clear lines and planes are superimposed and overlapped they create variegated lattices of sound, accumulating and dispersing in waves, revolving and creating subtly shifting harmonies. Sounds are heard drifting into and over one another, gradually coalescing, circling and gathering into swirling currents.
The words of the title are lifted from a poem called “Finding the Keys” by the Scottish poet Robin Robertson. While composing this piece I was thinking about how we experience the medium of air: how vibrating air moves as sound across distance; how air is coloured by light, seen and seen through, breathed in and out; the sensation of it moving around us.
© Edmund Finnis
(2014) For string orchestra
Duration: 13 minutes
strings (min. 126.96.36.199.2)
World Premiere: 23.8.14, Roundhouse, London: London Contemporary Orchestra/Hugh Brunt
Between Rain was commissioned by the London Contemporary Orchestra
(2008) Full Orchestra
Duration: 10 minutes
3(I=picc).3.3(I=cl in Eb).3(III=cbsn) – asax – 4331 – perc(2): xyl/t.bells/BD/crot(with bow)/t.tam/3 Sus.cym/tgl/medium nipple gong/SD/whip – 2 hp – cel – pno – strings
World Premiere: 21.4.08 Temppeliaukion, Helsinki: Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra, Sian Edwards
“Now in his mid-twenties, Edmund Finnis has recently worked in dance and electro-acoustics though lacks nothing in terms of an orchestral sense. Over the course of its 8 minutes, Flicker (2008) touches on a variety of pithy yet distinctive motifs, given coherence by a secure formal grasp (both the culmination and conclusion of the piece were unobtrusively evident) and definition through the skilful deployment of timbre and texture. Lucidly rendered by the GSO, it gave notice of a creative talent of whom one looks forward to hearing more.”
Richard Whitehouse for classicalsource.com
“The flickering of his work was almost visible, indeed: there was tension during the pauses – silences were loaded; woodwinds were obdurate in their superimposing musical fragments; fiery strings cast an electronic shadow on the musical texture – sometimes recalling an electric instrument’s feedback. Stinging metallic trumpets tore everything into pieces and, paraphrasing Ed Finnis’ comments in the programme notes, the tottering and insistent quality of the musical patterns moved forward with an ‘unsettling lack of inherent memory of what has gone before’.
…the overall impression was of a quivering satisfaction. And the mid air ending was, to quote a friend of mine, ‘just genius’.”
“Entitled Flicker owing to its constantly changing surface texture, Finnis’s composition exhibits sharp contrasts of mood varying between exuberance and mystery. …it made an excellent showcase for the orchestra.”