Rozalie Hirs

Roseherte (2007-08; 2014)

Roseherte (2008) is a composition for symphony orchestra (ninety players) and electronic sounds, commissioned by Nederlandse Muziekdagen with financial support of Netherlands Performing Arts Fund.

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"Sometimes those strange elements can be very beautiful—like the subdued, almost phantom electronics on Rozalie Hirs’s resonant Roseherte (which, to judge from the way people were talking about it Sunday, was the breakout hit of the festival)." Kevin Whitehead, Muziekplein

"Of the compositions, played with conviction by the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, […] the cello concerto by Wim Laman and Roseherte by Rozalie Hirs impressed most." Kees Arntzen, Trouw, The Netherlands

"Hirs conjured for us an enchanting play of sound color, transforming the orchestra into one breathing and pulsating entity, in which [...] recurring motives received an everchanging illumination." Thea Derks, Radio 4 blog, The Netherlands

"Roseherte by Rozalie Hirs, performed by the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, starts off with a refined play of sound color [...], followed by a striking passage where sound vortexes expand from around a more melodic core, like circles on water." Jochem Valkenburg, NRC, The Netherlands

"With Roseherte, Rozalie Hirs delivers a work in which subtle electronic sound mixtures accentuate the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra in an appealing science-fiction manner." Frits van der Waa, Volkskrant, The Netherlands

Contents

1. Listen
2. Program notes
3. Technical details
4. Performances

Listen

Program notes

Roseherte (2007-08), for a ninety-piece symphony orchestra and one hundred and fifty electronic sounds, borrows its name from the Middle Dutch mythical animal that lives in the depths of the heart. Roseherte (Rose hart) is roused from her eternal sleep by the Occitan unicorn. They set out in the rain as the sun breaks through and rainbows appear in the silver-grey sky. They sing about the zeppelins and air balloons flying by. Along with humming high-tension cables they sing of clouds and time. They are fond of pairs of dominant seventh chords whose roots are separated by the consonant interval of a perfect fifth. These pairs of seventh chords occur in various transpositions throughout Roseherte, and can be conceived as combinations of two or three harmonic series with matching partials. Roseherte employs ring modulation calculations between the two dominant seventh chords occurring within a pair. In this way, the two chords are, as it were, heard in the light of each other.
All calculations were done with OpenMusic software and transformed into the orchestral score by hand and ear. The calculated frequencies underlying the instrumental score were, then, used for sound synthesis with Csound software. During the performance of Roseherte, a musician triggers the synthesized sounds with a sampler, while two stereo loudspeakers that are placed next to the orchestra on stage project the electronic sounds into the hall. The resulting flexible soundtrack amplifies the orchestral mass during the performance: It adds perspective to the orchestral sound, blends with it mysteriously as a kind of aural halo, and, then again, sets itself apart placing the orchestra, as it were, in a sound space.

Technical details

duration
15′ ca.

instrumentation (2008, version for symphony orchestra: 91 players)
3 flutes (flutes 2: also piccolo)
3 oboes (oboe 3: also cor anglais)
3 clarinets (clarinet 3: also bass clarinet)
3 bassoons (bassoon 3: also contrabassoon)

4 French horns
3 trumpets
2 tenor trombones
1 bass trombone
tuba

timpani (1 player)
4 percussionists: crotales (bowed and hit), 3 glockenspiels, 4 thai gongs, tubular bells (twee octaves: one standaard and one low set), vibraphone (4 octaves), marimba, 12 bell plates (or bell plate sampler, to be obtained through the composer), 3 cymbals (high, medium, low; to bow with string bows), 2 sand paper blocks, bass drum

celesta (1 player)
piano
harp

midi keyboard & laptop for electronic sounds (1 player)

16 violins I
14 violins II
12 violas
10 cellos
8 double basses

instrumentation (2014; revised version for orchestra: 42 players)
2 flutes (flute 2: also piccolo)
2 oboes (oboe 2: also cor anglais)
2 clarinets (clarinet 2: also bass clarinet)
2 bassoons (bassoon 2: also contrabassoon)

2 French horns
2 trumpets
1 tenor trombones
1 bass trombone
tuba

2 percussionists: crotales (bowed and hit), glockenspiels, thai gongs, tubular bells, vibraphone (4 octaves), marimba, 3 cymbals (high, medium, low; to bow with string bows), 2 sand paper blocks, bass drum

piano
harp

midi keyboard & laptop for electronic sounds (1 player)

6 violins I
6 violins II
4 violas
4 cellos
2 double basses

further technical requirements
1.) Logic software, to be installed on the above mentioned laptop
2.) The ‘Hirstotaal’ sampler, to be obtained through Donemus Publishing.
This sampler with 150 electronic sounds was programmed by sound engineer and designer Jan Panis. The sounds were synthesized by Rozalie Hirs with technical assistance by Casper Schipper. The sound synthesis was done with the help of Csound software. Together the electronic sounds become a flexible soundtrack, that is used both as a reference for the orchestra with respect to the microtonal tuning as well as shaping a sound space within which the orchestral sound can evolve.
3.) Amplifier and mixer in the concert hall
4.) Stereo loudspeakers, to be placed next to or near the orchestra on the podium

Performances

6 November 2014 (version for orchestra: 42 players), 19:00, November Music, Verkadefabriek (Grote Zaal), Den Bosch, The Netherlands – Philharmonie Zuidnederland, Bas Wiegers (conductor)

21 September 2012 (version for symphony orchestra: 90 players), 19:30, Fifty-fifth International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn, Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, Warsaw, Poland – Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Pascal Rophé (conductor)

8 November 2008 (version for symphony orchestra: 90 players), 20:15, Nederlandse Muziekdagen: Oer, Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Micha Hamel (conductor) – world premiere

Rozalie Hirs: Roseherte, 21 september 2012, Warsaw Philharmonic, Pascal Rophé

Photograph: Rozalie Hirs on stage after the performance of Roseherte by the Warsaw Philharmonic at Warsaw Autumn (photo ©2012 Jan Bogacz)