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Work of the Week – Andrew Norman: Sustain

On 20 November Andrew Norman’s orchestral work, Sustain, will receive its European Premiere at the Barbican, London. The work will be performed by its commissioners, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor, Gustavo Dudamel.

While the work was itself completed over the course of several months, Norman’s idea for Sustain had itself began with an extended period of conceptualisation and experimentation several years earlier. The new 40-minute work that results, marks a change of direction in Norman’s music that contrasts with the character of earlier works such as Play. Instead, Sustain draws on its audience to consider its place within time and space. The work is not quite cyclical but rather it spirals, repeating the same music ten times with each repetition unfurling much faster than the last.  

Andrew Norman – Sustain: how the Earth is holding and sustaining us

All the work I was doing with long spans of musical time and geologically-unfolding sonic processes was in many ways my attempt to place us, the listeners, in relation to things in nature which are unfathomably bigger and longer than we are. And if there is a sense of sadness or loss that permeates this music, it comes from the knowledge that we, at this critical moment in our history, are not doing enough to sustain the planet that sustains us, that we are not preparing our home for those who will inhabit it in the next hundred, thousand, or million years. – Andrew Norman

Preceding the upcoming performance of Sustain, the UK Premiere of Norman’s Sacred Geometry will be given by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London on 19 November. Meanwhile, on 21 November audiences in Finland can hear Try in Lahti, performed by Sinfonia Lahti and conductor Dahlia Stasevska.