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World Premiere of Andrew Norman's Sustain

Oct. 01, 2018

World Premiere of Andrew Norman's <em>Sustain</em>

On October 4, Gustavo Dudamel leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the world premiere of Andrew Norman's Sustain at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Norman's newest large-scale work for orchestra launches the 100th anniversary season of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Additional performances of Sustain take place October 5-7.

Andrew Norman shares the insights driving his new composition:

"My first thought in writing Sustain was to imagine the audience that will sit in Walt Disney Concert Hall one hundred years from now, during the 200th season of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. What will it mean to gather as a community and listen to an orchestra in 2118? How will the ears and minds of those people be different from ours? How will they be the same? How will their notions of time and space and sound and history be shaped by the world around them, and what will that world outside the Hall look like? What place will the art of live symphonic performance have in such a society? These are broad and bottomless questions which led me in many directions, but gradually they coalesced around a pair of subjects. The first is time. Perhaps, one hundred years from now, the act of sitting quietly and listening to a symphonic argument unfold over 45 minutes will mean even more than it does today. Perhaps, in a time when humans will be bombarded with increasingly atomized bits of information, when overstimulation, fragmentation, and isolation will be the given norms of experience and discourse, perhaps then communal listening to a single, long unbroken musical thought will carry a kind of significance, sacrifice, and otherness we can’t yet really imagine.

I realized, as I was trying to conceptualize Sustain as one long unbroken musical thought, that I was attempting to access and understand spans of time that were much bigger than my own, that I was trying to move from times with which I was familiar — that of a tweet, or a work day, or a year — to things I could never personally experience, like the rise and fall of species, the movement of tectonic plates, the birth and death of stars. And this thinking brought me around to what is perhaps at the heart this piece:the natural world. Midway through writing Sustain I discovered that I was really writing a piece about the Earth, and my — and our — relationship to it. All the work I was doing with long spans of musical time and geologically-unfolding sonic processes was in many ways my attempt to place us, the listeners in Walt Disney Concert Hall, in relation to things in nature which are unfathomably bigger and longer than we are. And if there is a sense of sadness or loss that permeates this music, it comes from the knowledge that we, at this critical moment in our history, are not doing enough to sustain the planet that sustains us, that we are not preparing our home for those who will inhabit it in the next hundred, thousand, or million years."

In addition, on October 4-5, Susanna Mälkki leads the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in the Swedish premiere of Andrew Norman's Suspend, featuring pianist Conrad Tao as the soloist. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, led by Matthew Halls, performs Norman's Switch, featuring percussionist Colin Currie as soloist on October 12-13. Finally, on October 27-29, the Oregon Symphony, under the baton of Carlos Kalmar, performs Andrew Norman's Split featuring pianist Jeffrey Kahane as soloist. These performances of Split mark the premiere of the composer's revised version of the work. 

Listen to Andrew Norman's Play: Level 1 (2013, rev. 2016) here:

(Play: Level 1/Andrew Norman/Boston Modern Orchestra Project/Gil Rose, conductor)

To learn more about Andrew Norman, please visit

Andrew Norman
Sustain (2018)
for orchestra

Suspend (2014)
a fantasy for piano and orchestra crot, 7 tuned gongs; II. vib, 4sus cym; III. crot, almgl)-hp-str(

Switch (2014-2015)
for solo percussion and orchestra
3(3.pic).3( kick drum, slapstick, 5 tempbl, 2 bng, log drum, sm sus cym, guiro, crot (2 octaves); II: 4 pieces of wood, 2 cong, log drum, med sus cym, washboard, vib, glsp; III: kick drum, slapstick, 3 wdbl, 2 bng, log drum, 4 tom-t, lg sus cym, ratchet, tam-t; Solo percussion: 2 sus cym, 3 splash cym, xyl, almgl (2 octaves), 3 sm thai gongs, 5 tin cans, 5 tempbl, 4 tom-t, 2 bng, 2 cong, s.d, b.d, 2 tri, kick drum, 4 wdbl, tam-t, vib, 7 tuned gongs)-pno.hp-str

Split (2015, rev. 2018)
for piano and orchestra
2.pic.3.3(3.bcl).2.cbsn-4.3.2.btbn.1-timp.3perc(I. kick drum, slapstick, guiro, 4tempbl, 4 opera gongs, tri, flower pot; II. washboard, 4wdbl, brake drum, 2bng, sm splash cym, vib; III. kick drum, slapstick, ratchet, log drum, 4 tin cans, spring coil, flower pot)-hp-str