Friday, 1 May 2015

Today at 17:00 the contest in the Championship Division will have its start. 12 bands are given the opportunity to play the test piece ‘The God Particle’ by composer Rolf Rudin.


Rolf RudinFor him the first band to appear on stage will be actually the first performance he will hear from his piece, also being the first brass band piece he wrote. 

“Very uncommon for a composer’s life”, he said. “Normally I listen to at least one rehearsal. And now 12 times in a row …” After getting the commission to write this piece for the EBBC2015 I have listened to a lot of brass band repertoire and looked at a lot of brass band scores. During my writing process I have thrown away many parts, only because I thought it was in a way familiar to me, meaning that I might have heared it before in another piece. And that is something I want to avoid. I want to make something that is my own, not done before by someone else.”

Will the winning composition be the one that you actually preverred the best?

“Probably not, which is fine. And no, I will not tell afterwards which one I prefered the most or tell which came the closest to my own interpretation. I really find it interesting to listen to the different interpretations that conductors and bands give to my piece. If it is different than what I had in mind writing the composition, I am okay with that. Of course I have strict borders in the composition, but within they are free to move. Talking about that, I tried to notate everything as clear as I can so that a good performance should realize all these things. But many things are not possible to notate - these are up to the musicians to find and feel, like sensitive transitions, small modulations of tempo or a good balanced dynamic. You can't write all these details in a score and be safe that you always guaranty the same interpretation - that is naturally not my wish. Writing a good piece means also or includes also the possibility that the interpreters have the possibility to include their own personality in the musical interpretation. But be careful, that has nothing to do with a ‘free interpretation’! And it was good also that bands contacted me on certain things that obviously weren’t clear. That gives me the impression that the conductor goes deep into my composition. Further, I am not a composer that wants to tell too much about my piece. The things I want or need to tell are mentioned in the score.”

And this is what Rolf Rudin wrote about his piece:

“The title of the composition “The God Particle” refers to a title of a popular science book from 1993. In this book the question is discussed if there exists a very special sub-atomic particle and how extraordinary the requirement of effort has to be discover this one. The original intended title by the authors – “The Goddamned Particle” – which was curiously enough refused and changed by the publisher conveys that a direct connection to religious questions is not the main and onliest focus in the book.

By the year 2012 the discovery of this special particle in the large research organization of CERN in Switzerland where one can find the  largest particle physics laboratory in the world was finally announced. The main function of CERN is to provide the particle accelerators needed for high-energy physics research. And therefore there is located underground a 27 km circumference circular tunnel in which several experiments for studying particle collisions are possible.

This new sub-atomic particle called the “Higgs Boson” or “Higgs Particle” after the British physicist Peter Higgs seemed to be the much sought after particle which is essential for formation of the Universe because this particle gives mass to matter. Regarding to the importance of that function the “Higgs Boson” received the nickname “The God Particle” by the authors of the publication mentioned above. This nickname is often used in the mainstream media since the publication of the book and is strongly disliked by the many physicists. But for me as an artist which has an affinity for spirituality, religious fait hand mysticism the expression awakens inspiration.

The main ideas I am focused in in my composition are CERN – symbolized with three different major chords -, the enormous velocities which relates very fine with the abilities of the virtuosic Brass Band and the final collisions of the particles. Also the seating of the band in a nearly circular arrangement leads to the impression of that undergrounded tunnel and influences a special way of development and instrumentation. Relentlessly little fast motifs are moving through the different instruments, come up to the listener and go off. Often these developments lead to collisions of the pitches “H and B” (in the German pitch classification – in English music theory i.e. “B and Bb”) – the initials of the “Higgs Boson” – which also function as the roots for major and minor chords in the score. In this context I would like to mention the use and stage position of the two sets of timpanies and the two bass drums which are set facing one another around the orchestra: A circular set-up too!

Although the great line of the work’s architecture is characterized by monochromatic landscapes of sound with inner movements of little motifs with different articulations and colours the listener will get always new impressions of sounds. Furthermore the composition has no concrete melody or theme which is formative for the architecture. As a strong contrast in the middlesection of the work one can find a more cal mand meditative passage with often repeated structures in the soft and light playing mallet-instruments. The muted winds play soft shady sounds in the background. It is possible to interpret that as a light in the lonely darkness of the underground.

Lately it is interesting that people have apprehensions that as a side-effect the experiments at CERN will create a “black-hole” in our real world. And indeed the physicists there are searching for the “dark matter” wich is unsufficiently explored. But this idea becomes the inspiration point to create the final phase of the piece: The structure of light out of the middle section is getting contrasted by a very deep sound of the low brass. The “black chord” increases and absorbs gradually the highter structure of the “light-ostinato”. In the last two bars there appears a high briljant E-flat-major chord with a spicy “B natural” in the cornets until a short “secco-sound” of the “black chord” cuts off the music.


EBBA wishes the bands, audience and of course also Rolf Rudin a fantastic musical experience!


Study Scores of the Championship Test Piece “The God Particle” by Rolf Rudin are available to purchase at the EBBA Information Desk in the foyer of Freiburg Concert Hall. The Desk will be open on today from 13.30 till 22.00.

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