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Stavanger, Amsterdam, 20th May 2011
Alexander Comitas commissioned to write test piece for EBBC 2012 in Rotterdam 4-6th May
EBBA and the Rotterdam Brass Festival announce the composer of the test piece for the championship section EBBC 2012 (Rotterdam): Alexander Comitas.
The composer has already chosen the work's title: "Vita Aeterna variations - Variations and fugue on an original theme".
This is the first composition the well known Dutch composer Comitas has written for brass band, however, he has already written many pieces for wind band, and several test pieces for the World Music Contest in Kerkrade. The organisation aims to introduce a new, but well experienced name to the brass band repertoire by commissioning the test piece for the European Brass Band Championships 2012.
Alexander Comitas (born 1957) studied piano at the Utrecht Conservatory, and orchestral conducting at the Maastricht Conservatory. He worked as a freelance pianist for the orchestras and choir of the Dutch radio, before he decided to dedicate himself entirely to composing.
Since 1981 Comitas has been writing his music almost exclusively for commissions. Up till now he has written two operas, two symphonies, two ballets, two string quartets and many other works, among which many compositions for choir, symphony orchestra and wind orchestra.
Several of his compositions for wind orchestra served as test pieces for the concert division during World Music Contests WMC in Kerkrade: in 1995 his Armenian Rhapsody Nr. 1 for symphonic wind orchestra, in 2001 A Night on Culbin Sands, also for symphonic wind orchestra, and in 2009 Brass for fanfare orchestra. During the WMC 2013 his opera-with-wind-orchestra The Emperor's New Clothes will be premiered.
Apart from his composing activities, Comitas has been active as as a pianist and conductor of his own works. He has also given courses and lectures on composing everywhere in Europe and teaches basics of composition at the Leopold Mozart Centre of the Augsburg University.
Vita Aeterna Variations
(Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme)
Introduction by the composer
In 2007, Pim van Lommel's scientific research on near death experiences Eindeloos Bewustzijn (Consciousness Beyond Life) was published. The book gives strong evidence for the assumption that life doesn't end with death and human beings indeed do have a soul that lives on eternally, as all religions claim. I was intrigued by the subject and started reading books that attempt to describe life ‘on the other side', like Life in the World Unseen and A Wanderer in the Spirit World.
In 2010 I was commissioned to write a piece for the Koninklijke Fanfare ‘Sint Caecilia', from the Dutch town Puth, to commemorate one of its members, the recently deceased young euphonium player Jeffrey Lindelauf. As coincidence would have it, Jeffrey's parents asked me to express the viewpoint that life goes on after death in the composition, and they proposed that Vita Aeterna (Eternal Life) would be an appropriate title.
I had the feeling that the lyrical theme of this piece would sound very well for Brass Band, so I decided to use it as a starting point. Not only do I use this musical theme from the previous piece, I also wanted to elaborate a bit more on the subject of ongoing life, now combined with what in Hinduism and Buddhism is called Karma.
As a result, the Vita Aeterna Variations have the sort of rudimentary ‘program' that many composers from the past have wisely kept to themselves. Here it is:
Introduction and Theme. Adagio Tentative beginning of Life.
Variation I. Allegro energico Full of vital energy.
Variation II. Tempo di valse in modo subdolo Evil seeks to seduce and gradually succeeds.
Variation III. Allegro tempestuoso Fate strikes.
Variation IV. Largo Despair.
Variation V. Adagio Redemption.
Variation VI. Tempo di marcia Gradual return of life power.
Finale: Fugue and Apotheosis. Allegro vivace. Boisterous, overflowing with vitality and delight
in the beauty of life.
Alexander Comitas, May 2011