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Simon Holt

Publisher: Chester Music

Ellsworth 2 (2012)
Commissioned by the Utah Symphony Orchestra
Chester Music Ltd
Year Composed
15 Minutes

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Programme Note
Simon Holt Ellsworth 2 (2012)
I’ve been very strict with myself in this piece. The model for it is ‘Painting for a white wall’ by Ellsworth Kelly, a painter I’ve long admired for his rigour, attention to detail and clarity of thinking. The material stems from music that I wrote in an earlier piece, Troubled Light (2008), composed for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales where I was Composer in Association for 4 years. The third movement of Troubled Light is called ‘Ellsworth’; essentially the slow, central, meditative section of the whole piece. Some of the material from this movement re-appears in the final movement, at which point it has become hugely loud and abrasive and it’s this music that I took as a starting point for Ellsworth 2. The painting by Kelly is in 5 distinct sections, all exactly the same size; both width and height. Each one is a separate, clearly defined colour: black pink orange white blue. It’s precisely this kind of clarity that I have tried to aim for in my piece: 5 distinct sections of orchestral colour, each of which lasts exactly 3 minutes (or should do!). They’re all distant cousins of each other, material-wise, running without a break. Clearly, the piece should last exactly 15 minutes.
(c) Simon Holt

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  • 26 APR 2013
    Ellsworth 2 World Premiere
    Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah
    Utah Symphony Orchestra
    Thierry Fischer, conductor

    Other Dates:
    27 April - Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah

...sparse orchestration with long rests for "white," aggressive and densely textured sounds for "black" — while others were more surprising. "Orange," for example, was less jolly than one might have guessed, and "pink" was a bit more piquant. It was an interesting exercise in the subjectivity of color and the cultural expectations that influence our perception of it.
Catherine Reese Newton, The Salt Lake Tribune,4/26/2013
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