Carousel 23

op. 102, 2023

For five percussionists
Duration: 10 min.

Commissioned by Duisburger Philharmoniker for the Eigenzeit Festival 2023

World premiere at Mai 6th, 2023, Philharmonie Mercatorhalle Duisburg, Germany

Ensemble: OPERcussion
Claudio Estay Gonzalez, Carlos Vera Larrucea, Maxime Pidoux, Pieter Roijen, Tomás Toral


Composer’s Notes

Carousel 23 for five percussionists has been commissioned by the Duisburg Philharmonic on the occasion of the Eigenzeit Festival 2023. The piece is dedicated to the OPERcussion percussion ensemble.

I was inspired by the intense and powerful sound and the instrumental possibilities of the OPERcussion ensemble itself, and also by magical fairground carousels which delight people throughout the world. The percussion instruments available today make great and connective tonal versatility possible, particularly through the interaction of different musical cultures.

Carousel 23 is built on the heady movement of a changeable, uninterrupted playing mood. The composition consists of eleven units played in succession without pauses. The mood created by this seems like a race: persuing a “theme”, getting interrupted, and then following something else. Instrument and player combinations are varied again and again, in a particular order. Themes that are paused by certain sound actions are played again in renewed combinations afterwards. This changing action is intended to give the effect of the player being out of breath.

The eleven units build dramaturgically on a combination of numbers derived from the golden ratio. Five different short cadences are included, described by the term “call.” Irregular measures and rhythms with recurring melodic elements mark specific sonic sections of these units, which are repeated again and again in unexpected ways. Carousel 23 has the rhythmic, melodic, and sometimes anarchic mobility of a carousel, where certain actions seem to sound similar, yet are experienced differently each time.

The number 23 represents the year 2023, and the connection between the year number and the fairground action are two elements that are dramaturgically connected in the composition. Even though many things seem increasingly unexpected and jumbled in recent times, there is a mode or a force that runs without interruption and drives us humans to keep acting. The listener is free to feel and associate for themselves where processes appear in the piece like a merry-go-round, or otherwise.