Sagittarius A* (2017) 32'00

Sagittarius A* For violin, multi-channel electroacoustic sound (ambisonics) and live electronics.

Premier: 5th October 2017 (19.00). EAU concert, at Marmorsalen, Sentralen, Oslo.

Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius A-star), is a bright and very compact astronomical radio source at the centre of the Milky Way, and is thought to be the location of a super-massive black hole. Although black holes let out no detectable matter, they are apparent through the effect on their surroundings. Ultimately, what is experienced is not the black hole itself, but observations that are consistent only if there is a black hole near Sagittarius A*. Inspired by both the scientific and romantic mystery of this phenomena, in 'Sagittarius A*' the violin begins a journey inside a real, Norwegian forest, while touching on fragments of ancient musics of the world. Sounds and themes become focused, entangled, broken apart, stretched, reshaped, and energised, as they are drawn away from real-world sources. Rather than the total annihilation of falling into the black hole, which could have been musically portrayed as noise and then silence, the music instead enters a sonic spatial-musical indulgence more akin to the stretching and bending of gravitational lensing.

Two versions are available for concert performance

• A MaxMSP version for 11th-order SN2D ambisonics decoding over 16-24 loudspeakers surrounding the audience, and extra nearfield speakers beside the violinist. This is the main version projecting the full spatial-musical experience. A knowledgeable computer performer, who may double up as a dedicated technician, should perform with the violinist.

• A MaxMSP version for 8-channel loudspeaker array. A dedicated technician should accompany the violinist.

The work was commissioned by violinist Karin Hellqvist, with support from the Norwegian Composers' Fund.