Commissioned by the BBC Proms 2012 for Sir Mark Elder and the Aldeburgh World Orchestra
Dedicated to Mark-Anthony Turnage At The Speed of Stillness derives part of its inspiration in a surrealist poem by Dora Maar:
I rested in the arms of my arms
I no longer slept
It was night in the summer,
winter in the day
An eternal shivering of thoughts
Fear love fear love
Close the window open the window
You’ll see you’ll see
The hummingbird motionless as a star.
The energy, sense of endless movement and of exhaustion encapsulated in the poem permeates the music. Important also is the play with paradoxical ideas- the contrary notion that something moving quicker than the human eye is able to detect can appear to be motionless or still.
Harnessed to this ‘energetic charge’ in the work are expressions of ideas that resulted from contemplation of Sizewell Power Station and the power lines stemming from it, which the composer drew on as a source of inspiration. Mesmerised by the relentlessness of the structures, the restless shifts in perspective as you chase the power source across the countryside. The constant duality of the power lines, an underlying energy- hidden and intimate almost, yet zinging with immense power and force.