HAGALL by JEFFREY HOLMES
Presented by Firebird Ensemble:
Performed and premiered by Talea Ensemble
Hagall is an epic work which was completed by Jeffrey Holmes in August of 2015. The project was a result of a collaboration between composer Jeffrey Holmes, commissioning organization JFNMC, Presenter - Firebird Ensemble and Talea Ensemble who presented the enthusiastically received world premiere in March, 2016 @ Roulette in NYC. Talea is also producing a recording for future release. Check Jeffrey Holmes' website for more information: http://www.jeffrey-holmes.com
The title comes from the old Runic word for hail (as in a hailstorm). Hagall is also a dramatic representation of turbulent winter storms and references an "end". The Runic language is also accompanied by ancient poems of unknown or lost origin.
Hail is cold grain,
and shower of sleet,
and sickness of serpents.
"I used this poem as a rough outline of the macro-form. Hagall is in 3 continuous movements, each with an elemental association: Movt #1: Cold Grain (signifying the Earth), Movt #2: Shower of Sleet (representing the Sky), Movt #3: Sickness of Serpents (referencing the Sea).
Overall, Hagall uses instruments that evoke primordal sounds: Contra-bass clarinet evokes the ancient Lure; the french and english horns often play in harmonics like cow or bull horns; and the percussion part employs mostly non-pitched ancient instruments such as skinned drums, metal objects and clay pottery.
Hagall appears as the ninth rune in the Elder-Furthark Runic language. Nine has always been the superstitiously most important number to me, signifying an "end" reference in prehistoric Norse cultures and in addition being the actual date of my birth. Hagall is also the "H" rune as in my name "Holmes". So it has many meanings and references: historical and esoteric, autobiographical and numerological". - Jeffrey Holmes