sensing spaces: architecture reimagined
Scáth for saxophone sextet was first performed at the Royal Academy of Art’s Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined installation, written in response to Grafton Architects’ installation.
Their work consisted of concrete structures that hung low from the ceiling, creating an inner chimney column up to a windowed-ceiling, whose dimensions and shadows were enhanced by a slowly transforming, in-built lighting design. The title of this saxophone sextet comes from the Irish Gaelic saying: “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine”.
In performance, six saxophonists are positioned in separate corners and the audience is interspersed across the gap of the performance space. From a dimly-lit setting with cloudy shadows cast on the stone structure handing above, the lights gradually intensify and change perspectives on the shapes above and the floor below by using different angles. As a crescendo gradually builds across the total duration of the work, the players move slowly inwards, becoming more visible by the harsh and bright edges of a rectangular shadow at the centre of the space. The key structural points of the music are synchronized with the lighting effects, and the audience and performers are completely interspersed at the climax when the lighting has reached its full intensity.