Program notes

Ash Fire – Contrapunctus IX for chamber orchestra, opus 62 (2000)

Ash Fire for chamber orchestra was commissioned by the European Union as part of  a project of re-elaboration and completion of Die Kunst der Fuge by J.S.Bach, recognised as Special Cultural Event 2000 by the European Commission, co-ordinated by Luciano Berio and organised by Istituzione Lirico Sperimentale di Spoleto “A. Belli”.

The project involved the recomposition of Bach’s famous set of fugues with each fugue assigned to a different composer from all parts of Europe. The set was premiered in Spoleto, Italy in June 2001 and also received performances in the UK, Holland and Germany.

My work, Ash Fire, is based around the ninth fugue and divides the orchestra into two groups – soli and tutti. Ash Fire superimposes the Bach Contrapunctus IX onto a layer of my own orchestral music – creating a kind of millennial counterpoint as the two pieces unfold on their own tracks.  The music is fast and and highly virtuosic for the players.

© Andrew Schultz, 2000.