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I The remote control – You are in a small, sparsely furnished room. The curtains are a lurid green-and-orange striped pattern. A TV sits in the middle of the room – you are strangely drawn to it. A remote control is in your hand, and as you tentatively push the red button marked ‘on’, the TV erupts in an angry blare of noise. Flustered, you turn down the cacophony, and flick through a few channels. But it seems the remote has a mind of its own – it starts changing the channels by itself, at first slowly, then faster and faster. The volume roars, the bizarre programmes fly past, and you can't stop it no matter what you do…
II The derivation of musical wisdom – Suddenly the remote stops. The picture blurs – you stare at the screen to try to make out a vaguely familiar silhouette. A thick Parisian accent crackles through the speaker. ‘…Sound and Chaos – Hell's Eternal Rhythm…’ The picture snaps into focus – Pierre Boulez is hosting a cooking show. He is dropping long rows of notes into a pan with herbs, garlic and white wine. He turns, looks straight into the camera, gives you a knowing wink, and mouths ‘Et violà…’
III The game show – The channel abruptly switches to a frenetic daytime game show, where the contestants are competing for fabulous prizes beyond their wildest dreams. An hysterical woman spins the giant wheel, laughing wildly. Bells ring, lights flash – the host shrieks excitedly in a nasal voice ‘It's the grand prize! Four weeks in a small hotel room with your family of nine!!’ The woman stops laughing.
IV The rachenitza – The channel switches once more. Musicians are playing and people are dancing. There is barbed wire surrounding them. A man with his ribs showing stares mournfully at you. Suddenly he shouts ‘Roll up – the greatest show in the world is here! Experience horrors beyond the limits of your imagination!’ You watch, fascinated, reassured in the knowledge that there is a button marked ‘off’ on your remote control.
Notes from Promethean Editions: http://www.promethean-editions.com/
Commissioned for the contemporary music ensemble CadeNZa by Chamber Music New Zealand with funding from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council
1: The Remote Control
2: The Derivation of Musical Wisdom
3: The Game Show
4: The Rachenitza