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New Haven Symphony Orchestra Debuts Part I of Hannah Lash's The Voynich Symphony

Sep. 02, 2015

New Haven Symphony Orchestra Debuts Part I of Hannah Lash's <em>The Voynich Symphony</em>

On October 1, The New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) presents the first installment of “The Lash/Voynich Project”, an ongoing two-season collaboration with composer Hannah Lash that will culminate in a new major work for orchestra titled The Voynich Symphony. The NHSO premieres the work’s four movements over the course of the coming two seasons, each of which address a different aspect of the mysterious Voynich manuscripts: Herbal, Astronomical, Biological, and Cosmological

Currently housed in Yale’s Beinecke Library, one of the world’s largest collections of rare books and manuscripts, the Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex in an unknown writing system that continues to puzzle cryptographers to this day. The vellum material of its pages has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century, though speculation continues as to its precise origin and meaning. Lash set out to capture the manuscript’s vibrant and enigmatic qualities in musical form: 

The idea of the Voynich came to me in that here, of course, we have this gorgeous manuscript that’s very mysterious. We’ve never cracked this code. The thing about it that’s so compelling for me is its sheer beauty and sheer detail, and the level of care that went into it whether it’s a hoax or not. That was what inspired me, and that’s what my relationship to it is; this sense of putting something out there that I’ve put a great deal of care into that is very beautiful, hopefully, aesthetically, and yet doesn’t transmit some sort of literal communicative message.

NHSO music director William Boughton has worked closely with Hannah Lash to bring the work to life, and conducts the orchestra in the premiere of Movement I: Herbal alongside works by Grieg, Sibelius, and Dvorak.

For more information on Hannah Lash, visit

Tickets and concert information can be found at

Hannah Lash
The Voynich Symphony (2015)
for orchestra