bet giyorgis (2011)

For 12 players [1(picc).1.1.0||1P|gtr.mand.|hrp|]

Commissioned by The Nieuw Ensemble

Programme Note:

Bet Giyorgis is a rock-hewn church, the most elaborate and well-preserved of eleven such churches situated on the Lalibela world-heritage site in Ethiopia.

The piece presents a series of cyclic passages of piano material comprised of superimposed melodic lines. Some passages are presented as solos, others are voiced from within the ensemble.

The composite strands from each passage are gradually absorbed into instrumental sub-groups drawn from the ensemble (the staging of the piece reflects this). Initially, this process allows for the strands to be clarified and characterised, but no sooner as they become apparent they begin to decay – like a freshly carved stone gathering moss. Looking wider, the piece can be viewed as a study in decay and disfiguration in general; the music continuously submerging into a more and more ambiguous and hazy state-of-being.

bet giyorgis forms part of a projected cycle of works, entitled the eleven churches of lalibela and is dedicated to the Nieuw Ensemble, with whom the piece was developed in collaboration, part of the European Composers’ Professional Development programme 2011.


Approximately 18 minutes



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