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Work of the week – Andrew Norman: Spiral

On 14 June, the Berlin Philharmonic will give the world premiere of Andrew Norman’s Spiral as part of the orchestra’s farewell season of their principal conductor Simon Rattle, and within their “tapas” series of new works approximately six minutes in length, designed to whet the appetite for contemporary music.

Andrew Norman is widely regarded as one of the most successful composers of his generation and regularly receives commissions from major international orchestras. Last year he achieved great success with his children’s opera A Trip to the Moon, written for the Berlin Philharmonic’s “Vokalhelden” (Vocal heroes) project. In the same year, Norman’s orchestral work Play won a Grawemeyer Award, and he was named “Composer of the Year” at Musical America.

Andrew Norman – Spiral: a musical force

Norman’s Spiral traces the transformations of a few instrumental gestures as they orbit each other in ever contracting circles. The strings are instructed to play divisi and, one after the other, they entwine to create the effect of a musical spiral.

“…the idea of a “spiral-shaped” orchestra piece is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Some of the musical ideas and gestures in this piece were definitely inspired by my experiences of and with Simon and the Berlin Philharmonic (namely their unique physical energy and precision).” – Andrew Norman

Further performances of Spiral will follow in Berlin on 15 & 16 June. On 23 July the BBC Symphony Orchestra will perform the UK premiere at the BBC Proms, who co-commissioned the work, with Karina Canellakis conducting.