beneath an ocean of air (2017)

Mary Bellamy

string quartet, and piano

Program Notes

beneath an ocean of air was inspired by the beautiful skyspace artworks of James Turrell in which viewers can sit and observe the sky through framed apertures in the ceilings of buildings. Turrell describes these works as an attempt to ‘bring the sky down to the top of the space you’re in so that you really feel to be at the bottom of the ocean of air’. Visiting the Deer Shelter Skyspace at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park I was able to experience this extended perception of light and air and was struck by the way light becomes something that can be felt, something physical, when viewed in this way. The speed of air travelling and how rapidly the light changed were both enhanced. In many ways this piece attempts to evoke similar sensations: movement is central to it, and it explores sounds travelling with changing velocity and direction. For much of the piece sounds are suspended and floating in the upper registers, whilst at other times they descend rapidly, remaining grounded before travelling upwards again. Throughout, the quintet moves as one body of sound, emitting a sense of space, distance and speed as it moves through different forms and states.