Year: 2023


Flute/Prepared Flute
Clarinet/Bass Clarinet/Prepared Hose
Percussion: Vibraslap/Bongos/Tuned Gongs/Bell Plate/Crotales/Kick-Drum/3 Cowbells/Talking Drum
Prepared Piano (magnets/fishing wire/marbles)
Prepared Electric Guitar
Prepared Viola (paperclips)
Prepared Cello (paperclips)
Prepared Doublebass (alligator clips)
Visual Media (Projector, or 5 128×128 LED screens) – by Oisín McDonnell & edited by Anselm McDonnell

Duration: 11:30”

Performance History: Commissioned by the Crash Ensemble for their CrashWorks scheme. Premiered at New Music Dublin 2023 on 21st Apr 2023. RTÉ article about the premiere: read here. Journal of Music announcement for NMD 2023, including the CrashWorks premieres: read here.

Programme Note:

In June 2017 climber Alex Honnold made sporting history by becoming the first, and only, person to free solo (climb without ropes) the daunting 7,563 ft cliff face of El Capitan in Yosemite. The project demanded meticulous preparation, years of complete dedication, and an iron-clad mastery of the mind while risking certain death. His achievement is inspiring, terrifying, and raises very human questions about risk, limitations, and what we believe our lives are worth.

Like climbing, playing an instrument requires incredible focus, mastery of minutiae, and the attention of the whole body is geared towards the points of contact with a surface. The structure of my piece follows the topos (map of climbing problems) Alex made of El Cap; exploring different features of the rock and the problems he had to complete at each stage of the climb. In addition to the work placing high musical demands on the performers, several of the instruments are ‘prepared’ or adjusted in ways that make them more volatile and unpredictable, reflecting the risk inherent to climbing on natural rock faces.

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