op. 97, 2022
for 8 horns
Duration: 12 min.
Commissioned by the Bavarian State Opera for Munich Opera Horns on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Bavarian State Opera.
CD recording for Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings, September 2022
First performance: May 14, 2023, Allerheiligen Hofkirche, Munich
Ensemble: Munich Opera Horns
Conductor: Konstantia Gourzi
Voyager 2 is a commission from the Munich Opera Horns of the Bavarian State Opera, to whom the piece is also dedicated. The composition is inspired by the Voyager 2 space probe, which was launched from Earth in August 1977, initially to send photos of planets and their moons to Earth for a few months. As if by a scientific miracle, the probe continues to fly in interstellar space nearly 45 years after its launch. It is still in contact with Earth, signals are exchanged and Voyager 2 continues to send photos. And this despite the fact that contact was broken off after just under a year of flight, and this could only be restored by a spectacular, scientifically masterful repair from a distance of hundreds of thousands of kilometers.
The existence of a human work at the most distant place of our solar system fascinated me. I wanted to find a dramaturgical concept to develop this fascination compositionally. Is there, after all, “something” that remains without being permanently controlled by man and follows its own trajectory? Are there similar phenomena or processes in music or in the psyche? Would there be something that could remain in our psyche or heart unexpectedly – like the overlong voyage of Voyager 2 – from the music of the 21st century?
Composing for 8 horns was a new task for me, one that I had long felt was not easy, since I had little sound association with this instrumentation. However, the more I delved into the story and journey of Voyager 2, the more accessible the instrumentation became.
Both the dramaturgy and the rhythmic and harmonic material then became structured by a number chart I developed. The piece is composed in seven interconnected parts that are played as one. The first three parts are conceived as a first movement, the fourth, fifth and sixth parts as a second movement, and the seventh part (coda) as the third movement.
The first movement, the first three parts, serve as sound stations of a journey, as a preparation for what is to come. In the second movement, in the fourth part, all 8 horns speak into the instrument, as if surprisingly asking a question as a transition to the fifth part. Here, all 8 horns play together in a circular fashion as question and answer in duets or quartets: one duet plays an ostinato tapestry of sounds while the other six players share the harmonies, melodies and rhythm. This ritual is repeated four times so that each player has taken on each musical function. The mood of a ritual that this creates requires intense musical concentration. The sixth part is again spoken into the instrument, this time as an answer to the previously asked question, as a confirmation, so to speak. The third movement and seventh part is a coda with the chords of the chorus, which continues to sound as if in lontano form, moving away in liveliness.