L’abri d’Al-‘Amiriyya

Orchestra and electronics



L’abri d’Al-‘Amiriyya is a work for orchestra and electronics in three episodes. It begins as a study of layers and filters in a complex texture, in which the abrupt variations in timbre are treated independently to the coherence of the individual musical gestures. In the brief second episode, the material rarefies and the same process begins again in a more coherent and homogeneous fashion, building to an electronic gesture that silences the orchestra and develops into an expressive interlude composed with advanced additive synthesis. The piece concludes with an episode exploring the idea of heterophony as employed in Arabic music, meaning a melodic line played simultaneously by a heterogeneous group of players, each constantly modifying it and enriching it individually according to his/her own instrumental tradition while maintaining a collective cohesion.

The title references Naseer Shamma, who composed and recorded a homonymous piece for solo oud in homage to the victims of a sad chapter of the recent history of Iraq. It features musical means rarely heard in the genre and in his other compositions, such as references to the sound of alarms, and is characterized by extreme and highly expressive changes in atmosphere. The title refers to a tragic event during the First Gulf War in which the U.S.-led coalition bombed a civilian shelter in Al-‘Amiriyya, a neighbourhood of Baghdad, mistakenly believing that it housed a military command center. More than four hundred of the many civilians who were seeking refuge in the shelter lost their lives.

L’abri d’Al-‘Amiriyya was written during my studies at the Geneva University of Music, it was premiered by the School’s orchestra conducted by Nicolas Chalvin