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Adam Vidiksis

Transfigurations

2013

Performed by the Temple Composers Orchestra (Chamber version)
Adam Vidiksis conducting

Full Orchestra/Chamber Orchestra and Live Computer Processing

For ages, the orchestra served as the most advanced tone generator available to the musical art. The history of the orchestra has been one of continual development toward a diversity of timbre, loudness, and register. The computer is the only musical instrument capable of making all sounds discernible by the human ear; it is logical then to bring the computer into the orchestral tradition. Transfigurations combines the vast musical forces provided by these two mediums. All the sounds one hears originate in the orchestra itself live during the performance, except for the last sound. The computer processes these sounds in real time – manipulating, augmenting, and reinventing the performance. As with human musicians, no two iterations of the computer realization are exactly alike.

The piece comprises five sections. The first is a fast-paced interplay between the orchestra and the computer, filled with counterpoint and rising to a dark and threatening culmination. In the second part, the flute, clarinet, and computer intermingle and untangle again with interjections from the rest of the full ensemble. The third portion of the work is a hopeful adagio, expanded in color by the computer, which ends in a triumphant outburst. The fourth section is dominated by solo violin and percussion. Both are manipulated to create an dense, metallic texture with threatening interjections from the rest of the ensemble. In the final section, the orchestra takes off at brisk pace, as if trying to outpace the ever-increasing effect of the digital manipulation. It is finally overtaken in a moment of music controlled by the computer and completely transformed from the live performance. As this music fades away, the only sounds not manipulated directly from the orchestra are heard. These chime-like tones are determined stochastically by the computer from the notes of the opening chordal motive. As these play softly fading into the distance, the orchestra enters once again for a final weary statement.