for soli, choir & orchestra
Year of composition:
choir(SATB), orch: 3(2)-3(1)-4(3)-3(1) alsax tensax 4-3-3-1 euph:2 perc:5 hp pf/cel str
40 min
Commissioned by:
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir
2000-03-02, Grieghallen

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Turba is a vast sound-picture made up of 31 short movements. The movements are chained together and represent four interwoven threads of text, and two threads of purely orchestral music. The text is taken from Lucretius’ poem ”On the Nature of Things”.

Lucretius is a spokesman for the theory of atoms. He provides a logical and poetical argumentation against the prevailing idea of the world as a solid and defined entity. Lucretius aims to prove that everything is movement and lightness, and that there is a world of unseen things behind the one we can see.

The four stories told in the piece are about the movements of particles, about the flow of light, about the images in our mind and about the storms, floods and big phenomena of weather. The density and flow of the music is clearly connected to these themes, as is also the use of the latin words themselves: continuous or cut-up as points, whispered, sung, or played back as electronical ”ghost” voices.

Lucretius tells the existence of an infinite number of elements which are not possible for our eyes to see. For him, an evident proof that this is perfectly possible is the appearance of images in our mind:

”And first I tell thee this:
hat many images of objects rove
In many modes to every region round-
So thin that easily the one with other,
When once they meet, uniteth in mid-air,
Like gossamer or gold-leaf. For, indeed,
Far thinner are they in their fabric than
Those images which take a hold on eyes
And smite the vision, since through body's pores
They penetrate, and inwardly stir up
The subtle nature of mind and smite the sense.”

The two purely orchestral threads: ”Aria” and ”Toccata” represent the flow of air, and chains of hammering pulses.

The word ”Turba” refers to noise, crowd, population. In Lucretius’ text the word sometimes is used as the trunk of other words depicting storms and heavy weather. Turba is the irregular whirl in a mass, opposed to the prefix Turbo, which describes an even rotation around a center.

Turba is scored for a large orchestra, choir, two soloists (soprano & alto) and electronics (tape). It was commissioned by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, and first performed in March 2000.

Nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize.

NB noter