Arkhitekton Theta

13 instruments: 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, trumpet, French horn, trombone, 2 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos (in the 1st movement)

20 singers (5S–5A–5T–5B)

accordion solo (in the 2nd movement)

Video & photo: Courtesy of the Pro Arte Foundation

Arkhitekton Theta is a sound sculpture for the ensemble, choir and listeners in motion. It was written specially for the space of the Plywood Theatre and commissioned by the Bolshoi Drama Theatre (St. Petersburg) and the Pro Arte Foundation. The name is referred to the cubist configuration of the Plywood Theater, which itself refers to the arkhitektons by Kazimir Malevich and his “earthlings planites”; the Greek letter “theta” is the first in the word θέατρον, theatre. The instrumentalists sit inside and the chorus stands by a chain outside along the perimeter of Plywood Theatre; all of this is combined into a complex sounding body that cannot be heard entirely from any point, so the audience will have to move through the theatre foyer, changing the acoustic focus.

This solution is unusual: as a rule, in a spatial composition the listener is either at the intersection of sound streams, or must move from one isolated sound object to another. This decision was prompted by the indefinability, the uniqueness of FT, directly related to Suprematism: this is not architecture, not engineering or sculpture, but all at once, plus a giant musical instrument due to the resonatory properties of plywood. So the result can hardly be called a work; here we are dealing with a kind of analogue of the “motion of painted surfaces” (Malevich), which I tried to unfold in time and sound.

The second movements takes place in the main hall of the theatre and is called Earthling Planites. These are semi-architectural drawings of Malevich, a sort of paper architecture. It consists of 14 choral fragments and 15 fragments in the invisible accordion part which are performed almost independently. In the first movement, the choir was a shell for instrumental part, but here it can be heard as something more solid. These two stories take place in parallel, but neither of them, like in the first movement, forms a stable ‘opus’.

Premiere: December 2019, Bolshoi Drama Theatre, St. Petersburg

eNsemble, Festino Choir, Sergei Tchirkov (accordion), cond. by Fedor Lednev

First movement, a virtual soundscape mixed from three moving recorders