Christopher Theofanidis

Press Kit

Field of Infinite Forms (2008) for orchestra and digital playback

Electronics realized by Mark Wingate
Acoustic music realized by Christopher Theofanidis

I. Introit
II. Superunison
III. Hall of Mirrors
IV. They Listened, Trembling
V. Dazzler of Heaven

Duration: 20 minutes
FIRST PERFORMANCE: September 2008; Austin Symphony/Peter Bay

Austin Symphony/Peter Bay, conducting

This piece is written for orchestra and digital playback from a Mac Powerbook, in a kind of extension of Surround Sound 5.1, with submixes on each of the tracks.  There are a stack of speakers above the orchestra which constitute one track, and include subwoofers, and there are 4 sets of speakers around the hall, with much of the ‘weight’ of the sound in full-frequency in the very back of the auditorium for an optimal sense of spatialization.  The conductor wears earphones which are connected to a clicktrack for maximum synchronicity between the orchestra and the electronics; otherwise, the players play in a normal fashion.

One of our hopes for this piece is to create a work in which the listening experience becomes heightened and more vivid by virtue of the fact that the sound is emanating from every direction in the performance space.

There is a brief, 40-second electronic introduction in which bat-like sounds emanate from the dark recesses of the concert hall, swirl around and descend into the orchestra, possessing it. 

I.  Introit

Sound is passed around the hall in a grand manner antiphonally as in the writing of Gabrieli for St. Mark’s, but  it takes on a surreal and psychedelic quality as pitches are bended and warped.  This movement is meant to open up the performance space and maximize a sense of wonder.

II.  Superunison

The electronics act as a kind of super halo that surrounds the audience and amplifies what the orchestra is playing.  The sound is very warm and has a chorusing effect.  There are little flares that shoot out into the hall from events in generated in the orchestra as well.

III.  Hall of Mirrors

The electronics are by and large of an orchestral nature here, and are meant to mimic and parody the orchestra, so much so that at times it should be difficult to discern who is making the sounds, the orchestra or the hall speakers.  This movement uses the spatialization of sound within the hall to create a sense of disorientation.

IV.  They Listened, Trembling

The music here takes on a textural feel, with most of the electronics emanating from above the orchestra and at the very back of the performance hall, a kind of frightening music which is evocative of an incantation.  There are many gongs and deep swell sounds which pervade both the electronics and orchestra, and which help to give the impression of respiration.  There are also sounds in the electronics which come from the Japanese shakuhachi flute.

V.  Dazzler of Heaven

An apocalyptic landscape; there are a bombarding series of explosions which are passed between the electronics and orchestra, revealing spectral harmonies in the bursts.  One could easily imagine fireworks exploding into bright colors, but our conception of it runs a little darker.  This activity eventually implodes, and the result is a kind of sonic orb which turns back into the sound of bats from the opening of the work and ascends into the ether.

This work is dedicated to Amy Beth Kirsten and Rebecca Sager.

—Christopher Theofanidis