Black Icons (for solo cello and ensemble)

Redgate, Roger. 2011. Black Icons (for solo cello and ensemble). [Composition]

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Item Type:

Creators: Redgate, Roger
Abstract or Description:

Commissioned by the European Commission for the festival Europe through the Eyes of Russians, Russia through the Eyes Europeans
First Performance: Rakhmaninov Hall, Moscow Conservatoire, Moscow 19th April 2011. Alexander Ivaskin (cello), Igor Dronov (conductor) The Studio for New Music Ensemble.

It was a requirement of the commission that the work engage with Russian culture, art, etc. I was keen to find a living artist who had lived through/had an artistic reaction to the political changes. Black Icons was inspired by the work of the Russian poet Alina Vitukhnovskaya, arrested and wrongly imprisoned by the FSB on fabricated charges. I was impressed by the poet’s work for its beautiful form of linguistic expression, combined with brutal imagery, which seemed to question the relationship between a ‘refined’ form of poetic expression, and a sense of alienation and brutality.

Part of my research involves the search for a meaningful, politically informed art, supporting the view that it is through art that new forms of social understanding and political action can be found. Can an artist’s reaction to a political situation have any meaning; can/should this in anyway be reflected in the structure of the work? I at once felt that Vitukhnovskaya’s poetry fulfilled these criteria and it was my aim through the material/structure of the work to try to reflect a similar artistic reaction to certain socio-political contexts.

The work is not a conventional ‘concerto’, but aims to explore aspects of alienation between the soloist and ensemble. The soloist is at times completely subsumed into the overall texture or seeking to navigate a journey through various unstable and changing landscapes, alternating with isolated solo sections, trying to assimilate the ensemble textures and/or oppose them.

It was axiomatic to this approach that my musical language should not in anyway be compromised or simplified with a view to making it more ‘accessible’ or to superficially ‘express’ something.

Official URL:
Departments, Centres and Research Units: Music > Contemporary Music Research Unit
Research Office > REF2014
Copyright Holders: Roger Redgate
Related URL:
Dimensions or Duration:
12 minsDuration
Item ID: 8406
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2013 16:16
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2017 10:07


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