1 Dec 2018

Michael NORRIS: Violin Concerto - Sama (première)

From Music Alive, 8:00 pm on 1 December 2018

Sama (Arabic for ‘listening’) is a Sufi ceremony that includes elements of ritual, singing, dancing, poetry and prayers.

Michael Norris

Michael Norris Photo: Supplied


The famous whirling dervishes have a version of this ecstatic devotional dance where they keep their left foot anchored to the ground and one palm always gesturing earthwards while the other hand is raised up to face the expanse of the universe.

Their spinning trance acts as a conduit between the two realms.

This concerto tries to capture this sense.

Amalia Hall (violin), Orchestra Wellington conducted by Marc Taddei

Three Movements:

  • Ard. The flutes, violas, harp and vibraphones open with a ritualistic ‘tolling’. The soloist enters with a quiet but intense motif, which flourishes throughout the movement, representing life and growth.
  • Fada. A vast space of cosmic proportions above which the soloist floats in distant ecstasy. The orchestra illuminates the scene in washes of light; the soloist attempts to goad them into disquiet.
  • Semazen. The soloist whips up frantic whirling gestures in an almost constant state of ‘vortical’ force. This movement quotes and extrapolates motifs from a couple of 20th century works that share this whirling quality: Gérard Grisey’s Vortex Temporum and Helmut Lachenmann’s Mouvement (-vor der Estarrung). ~ Notes by Erica Challis

Recorded 1 December 2018, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert.

Producer: David McCaw

Engineer: Graham Kennedy