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Helen Grime

Publisher: Chester Music

Virga (2007)
Commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra in partnership with UBS, as part of the UBS Soundscapes: Pioneers series.
Work Notes
Commissioned by the LSO with funds from UBS
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
6 Minutes

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Programme Note
Helen Grime Virga (2007)
Virga opens with a striking gesture in woodwind and tuned percussion that is to become a recurring feature throughout the piece. In this fast moving five minute long piece, there is much rapid passagework in the strings, in particular a series of turbulent cascading runs, as well as a stately chorale in the brass. About half way through the piece, there is an extended melody for the 1st violins, at first unaccompanied and later coloured by other sections of the orchestra. The extremes of register that were available to me in the orchestra are amplified and highlighted during the small time-scale, and were essential in determining the shape of the piece.

Virga is precipitation that falls from a cloud but evaporates before it reaches the ground. It can produce rather dramatic and beautiful scenes, especially during a sunset.

© H.G.

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  • Ensemble
    Hallé Orchestra and Hallé Soloists
    Lynsey Marsh
    Sir Mark Elder and Jamie Phillips
Introducing the Hallé's prodigiously-talented 20-year-old new associate composer, Helen Grime, the six-minute piece, Virga, takes its name from the haze of precipitation that evaporates before it reaches the ground, and was full of evanescent textures separated like individual cloud strata. On this showing, the long-range forecast looks good.
Alfred Hickling, The Guardian,18/11/2011
..her stunning orchestral work Virga, which has been reaping international acclaim for the 29-year-old, was played to huge effect in Edinburg and Glasgow by Stephane Deneve and the RSNO.
Michael Tumelty, Herald Scotland,24/11/2010
Certainly Grime has an enviable orchestral competence, and...a distinctive voice.
Peter Cudmore,,17/11/2010
...packaged in glowing orchestral colours, and containing the right number of striking ideas. It's a taut little orchestral showpiece that the RSNO clearly relished.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,15/11/2010
Virga, too, is a beautifully constructed piece, glistening in its textures and gently seething in its maelstrom of activity, and here made a dramatic impact.
Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph,01/08/2009
Helen Grime's five-minute Virga, a depiction of rain that evaporates before reaching the ground. The piece is a totally satisfying miniature, which uses the orchestra with such flair and impressive confidence that it didn't sound remotely out of place among such superbly orchestrated scores.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,01/08/2009
The music is agitated and sonorous, lyrical, angular, striving, spiky and dissonant. There were echoes of Elliott Carter’s music. Impressive.
Colin Anderson,,01/01/0001
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