NEW MUSIC: While Time Quietly Kills Them

Posted on September 23, 2010

While Time Quietly Kills them

Composed by Gavin Higgins

Premiered on 25 September 2010

Inspired by the skeletal figure of Death on the Astronomical Clock in Prague’s Old Town, While Time Quietly Kills Them explores both the organic and the mechanical.

The Astronomical Clock dates back to the 15th Century and is littered with clockwork figures that move and turn at every hour: Christ leads his Twelve Apostles past an open window whilst below stand representations of Vanity, Greed and the Infidel.

The figure of Death, of course, acts as the catalyst to this motley procession, turning his hourglass and ominously ringing a bell.

Watch a video of the clock in action

  Manchester Camerata Gavin Higgins While Time Quietly Kills them
Listen to Manchester Camerata Podcasts   Listen to Gavin’s composition While Time Quietly Kills Them

“Although pregnant with religious doctrine (and a certain amount of stereotypical racism) I found the Astronomical Clock almost life affirming.” says Gavin.

“It tells us that from death comes new life. This is represented through the hourly ritual of the clockwork models and is echoed throughout the natural world; from the decay of plant life compost is formed, at the death of a star a new galaxy is born. However, the clock also acts as a cautionary tale, reminding us of our own mortality and that Death is always near, incessantly turning his hourglass.”

“In this work I have tried to combine organic worlds (sinuous wind lines and string passages) and the mechanical rhythms of the clock (bell-like brass fanfares and pounding timpani passages). The wind lines ‘evolve’ throughout the work while reflective strings themes evoke faded memories. The brass and percussion explosions are persistent (though not always aggressive in timbre) and hark back to the figure of Death.”

The title comes from the period comedy, London Assurance, buy Irish playwright Dion Boucicault:

London Assurance, Act II

COURTLY: How can you manage to kill time?
GRACE: I can’t. Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.

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