Fireworks reveals composer’s personal response to Polish history

European Union Youth Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda perform Zubel’s joyful score at Royal Albert Hall on 19 August as part of major European tour

Past and present share common ground in Fireworks. Agata Zubel’s score for large symphony orchestra is set to receive its UK premiere at the BBC Proms on Sunday 19 August. Her eight-minute composition, commissioned by Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of its Polska Music programme, marks the centenary year of Poland’s independence. It has been chosen to launch the European Union Youth Orchestra’s matinee concert conducted by Gianandrea Noseda at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Orchestra and conductor will give the work’s world premiere in Warsaw at the Chopin and His Europe Festival on Monday 13 August. EUYO will also take the work to Berlin on 14 August for a concert as part of Young Euro Classic.

Fireworks presents what its composer describes as ‘a vision of … the present seen as the fruit of everything that happened before’. Her piece considers the accidents – some tiny, others colossal – that shape history and reflects on the events that create a nation’s identity. Above all Zubel offers a personal interpretation of Poland, of her homeland’s struggles and successes over the past hundred years, its traditions and innovations, and its place in today’s family of nations. ‘I do not usurp the right to sum up the past or to warn people with my music,’ she comments. ‘All I want to do is exclaim, “I am happy to be alive and free, here and now!”’

While the work’s energy draws from Agata Zubel’s Polish roots, its musical ideas reach far beyond national borders. ‘I want my music to trigger a rapid and unpredictable stream of thoughts that will meander through the multiplicity of impressions, will be able to surprise and energise, and inspire the audience with the sheer joy of life!’ Zubel’s personal joie de vivre surges through the bold brass writing and sudden percussion outbursts of Fireworks. It also rises in the work’s lyrical lines, heartfelt and connected to collective memories of times past without being shackled to patriotic nostalgia. ‘The music of someone who lives in the present – in a country that regained its freedom a whole hundred years ago – can also carry a humanist message, with all its naturalness and its affections,’ the composer notes.

Fireworks was commissioned by the European Union Youth Orchestra as part of "2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage" and Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the international cultural programme POLSKA 100. POLSKA 100 is financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017-2021.

 

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