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979-0-57036-879-2 Breathless – Score and parts Available at MusicRoom Buy now (£29.95)


Cornelia Parker’s ‘Breathless’ sculpture hangs in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, comprising some fifty old brass instruments which have been crushed flat. It was commissioned in 2001 by the V&A trustees on the understanding that brass
bands no longer existed and had become part of our history. Parker described that music as ‘part of the robustness we used to have’ and ‘like an anthem which is slowly winding down.’
My quintet is in two movements, reflecting the dualities evident in her art: light/dark, silence/noise, upper class/lower class, North/South, death/resurrection etc.
The movements also mirror the fact that her work (which hangs in a space between two floors) can be viewed from above or below, with polished upper surfaces and tarnished undersides; in my piece the ‘musical objects’ can be encountered from multiple perspectives – a recurring idea in my work.
Parker’s sculpture was designed to hang in a specific location in the museum, just as mine was intended to be played (although hopefully not exclusively!) within a particular space. The first, quick movement is called ‘Unit’ and the contrasting second is entitled ‘Aria’.
(DL, York and Subang Jaya, May 2016)


11 minutes
1 Horn in F, 2 Trumpet in B-flat, 1 Trombone, 1 Tuba
Composition date