ElevenTwelve was composed in 2019 for Bill Pritchard, for inclusion in a recital presentation on the performance of graphic scores for tuba, for premiere at Arizona State University at the International Women’s Brass Conference. The work is centered around the convent where medieval nun, composer, author, and theorist Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1170) lived and worked. Hildegard joined the convent as a young girl, traveling the seventeen miles from her home in the neighboring town of Bingen. When Hildegard arrived there, in the year 1112, she found a quiet and peaceful setting, the convent buildings in harmony with the surrounding forest and farmland. Set atop a hill in rural Germany, at Disibodenburg, the abby had been founded as a sacred place with the construction of a church in the year 640. Hildegard flourished under the creative atmosphere she found there, and after receiving her education, stayed into adulthood, and became Abbess in 1136, overseeing all operations of the thriving community of nuns. Hildegard went on to become a major political figure, author, and spiritual leader. She later left Disibodenburg to found two more convents, and wrote scientific and medical treatises, as well as music for services at the convent, much of which has been preserved.
Graphic scores are sets of musical instructions which are not presented in traditional musical notation format, but rather involve pictorial and artistic elements, and often leave much to the improvisation and imagination of the player. In the twentieth century, graphic scores became a way to share the compositional process more equally between the composer and the performer, and to involve concepts of improvisation and chance elements in the musical presentation. The performance of ElevenTwelve involves the player making choices between elements of melodic material placed within a map of the Disibodenburg convent. The performer can traverse the convent in any manner, and choose the musical elements found at each place along his or her journey through the community. The medieval convent at this time would have been a bustle of work and activity, with a large main church, smaller chapel areas for townspeople and visitors, dormitories, meeting and working spaces, and kitchens, bake houses, gardens, vineyards, a guest house, and hospital. Set in a patch of forest in the Glan and Nahe River valley, Disibodengurg is an area of excellent wine production, produced and used by nuns during religious services, with some vines dating back to Roman times. The production of wine continues there today.
ElevenTwelve is designed to be performed with or without electronic accompaniment, created by the performer, and with a performance time of four to six minutes. The soloist’s musical choices evoke an overall atmosphere of peace and serenity, through the use of flowing and meditative melodic lines. These melodies bring to mind Hildegard’s chant music, sung by the nuns during the worship at Disibodenburg, honoring their lives and work, worship and community.
The shipped paper score will arrive with the optional electronic accompaniment included on a CD, or the performer may create their own. The work can easily be altered to work well on euphonium or trombone also.