Duration 13 min.
Video of entire work below, at bottom of page.
Written for The Iceland Symphony Orchestra.
AERIALITY was premiered in the new Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Center, HARPA, by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra November 24th 2011, conducted by Ilan Volkov.
“Aeriality is a broad tapestry in which each instrument does its own thing on its own terms, contributing to the swirling stasis of the bigger picture … in this piece we also hear Thorvaldsdóttir expanding her language in the direction of quarter-tones and noise music while pushing the idea of a single monolith to breaking point as her characteristic pedal notes creak under the weight of the machinery they support.” - Andrew Mellor, Gramophone, Jan 2019
"A highlight of last season’s New York Philharmonic programming was the local premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s uncannily tactile “Aeriality,” part of the composer’s appointment as the orchestra’s Kravis Emerging Composer. Observers tend to link Ms. Thorvaldsdottir’s willfully craggy music to the surreal tectonics of her native Iceland. But her expansive works defy such national clichés, and instead frequently channel abstract metaphysical concepts into acutely mysterious forms." - William Robin, The New York Times March 30th 2018
"Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s masterpiece Aeriality had the most magnetic and profound effect of all the music played, inducing a rare, extended silence in the cavernous Royal Festival Hall after its final notes had died away." - Andrew Mellor, Finnish Music Quarterly, October 5th 2017
"Aerality leans on sustained notes, yet its sonorities are so alive with ever-changing instrumental filigree that it simultaneously achieves a state of stasis and of transformation." - Alex Ross, The New Yorker, May 1 2017
"From the sinister first bar through to the glorious dissipation sound into silence at the end, Aeriality is spellbinding, the vast structure of the piece grasping the ear and demanding attention." - Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack, September 30th 2017
"This is a big spinning planet of a work that, to echo Whitman, contains multitudes of ideas within itself, pregnant with promise from the opening whipcrack of percussion and major-key chord that keeps reasserting itself as tendrils of other sounds curl off it like smoke.” - Anne Midgette, Washington Post, November 28th 2014
AERIALITY is a work for a large instrumental force, written in 2010/2011, consisting of vast sound-textures combined – and contrasted with – various forms of lyrical material. The piece was commissioned by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra to be premiered November 24th 2011, conducted by Ilan Volkov in Harpa, the new Concert and Conference Center in Reykjavik, Iceland.
AERIALITY refers to the state of gliding through the air with nothing or little to hold on to – as if flying – and the music both portrays the feeling of absolute freedom gained from the lack of attachment and the feeling of unease generated by the same circumstances. The title draws its essence from various aspects of the meaning of the word ‘aerial’ and refers to the visual inspiration that such a view provides. ‘AERIALITY’ is also a play with words, combining the words ‘aerial’ and ‘reality’, so as to suggest two different worlds; “reality”, the ground, and “aerial”, the sky or the untouchable.
AERIALITY can be said to be on the border of symphonic music and sound art. Parts of the work consist of thick clusters of sounds that form a unity as the instruments of the orchestra stream together to form a single force – a sound-mass. The sense of individual instruments is somewhat blurred and the orchestra becomes a single moving body, albeit at times forming layers of streaming materials that flow between different instrumental groups. These chromatic layers of materials are extended by the use of quartertones to generate vast sonic textures. At what can perhaps be said to be the climax in the music, a massive sustained ocean of quartertones slowly accumulates and is then released into a brief lyrical field that almost immediately fades out at the peak of its own urgency, only to remain a shadow.
The piece is in one movement and is approximately 13 minutes in duration.