Title: Noctilucence

Year: 2009

Instrumentation: mixed ensemble (8 players): flute, clarinet, glockenspiel, piano, string quartet

Web link: performance by London Sinfonietta, cond. George Benjamin: http://www.francemusique.fr/emission/le-concert-contemporain/2013-2014/george-benjamin-dirige-le-london-sinfonietta-au-festival-messiaen-09-09-2013-00-00

Program note:

This is a piece named after a type of cloud. Noctilucent clouds form in the highest regions of the Earth’s atmosphere. Occurring at altitudes above 80km/50 miles on midsummer nights, they appear as sun-illumined silvery waves on the threshold of space. Though sightings have apparently increased in the past 20 years, they are extremely rare and remain mysterious to science.

Like the clouds, the music of Noctilucence often inhabits the upper regions of available pitch-space, with shimmering string harmonics, piccolo arabesques and bright piano octaves illuming the line which flows through the piece.

Noctilucence is dedicated to Sinan Savaskan for many years of friendship and inspiration.

– Christian Mason, November 2009