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Unsuk Chin’s orchestral work Alaraph receives its US premiere with the San Francisco Symphony and Ryan Bancroft this May.

Unsuk Chin’s Alaraph ‘Ritus des Herzschlags’ is given its US premiere by the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Ryan Bancroft on May 16-18. Composed in 2022, the 13-minute score was co-commissioned by Radio France, NTR ZaterdagMatinee, San Francisco Symphony, Sinfonieorchester Basel, and Taiwan Philharmonic.The world premiere was given by Sinfonieorchester Basel and Ivor Bolton in August 2023.

The title Alaraph is drawn from cosmology, while Chin’s subtitle Ritus des Herzschlags (Ritual of the Heartbeats) references musical rhythm. The composer describes how two images were especially important when composing the score:

“Firstly, I was drawn to the concept of the so-called ‘heartbeat stars’ with their regular pulsation. This is also something the title refers to: ‘Alaraph’ is one of the so-called ‘heartbeat stars.’ These are pulsating variable binary star systems in eccentric orbits with vibrations caused by tidal forces. The term refers to the following phenomenon: the star’s light curve is similar to what a heartbeat looks like through an electrocardiogram when its brightness is mapped over time.”

“The second crucial image depicted certain aspects of Korean traditional music, both the 'static' courtly ritual music and the lively folk music. I didn't use these in the form of quotations but alluded to them distantly in the work's gestures and structure in a compressed and highly stylized manner.”

Chin also describes the central role of the percussion section: “In contrast to my other orchestral works, I dispense entirely with all melodic percussion, such as the vibraphone or glockenspiel. Instead, the properties of rhythmic percussion instruments are being used to the utmost. Consequently, the work displays considerable energy and physicality.”

After the US premiere, Alaraph is unveiled in the UK with the Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra and Roderick Cox (June 22). Other upcoming highlights this spring include the French premiere of Operascope with Orchestre de Paris and Andrés Orozco-Estrada (April 17-18), and the Dutch premiere of her acclaimed opera Alice in Wonderland with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic & Radio Choir, led by Markus Stenz (June 1).

Concert Information
Thursday, May 16 at 2pm PDT
Friday, May 17 at 7:30pm PDT
Saturday, May 18 at 7:30pm PDT

Davies Symphony Hall | San Francisco
More info

San Francisco Symphony
Ryan Bancroft, conductor
Joshua Bell, violin

UNSUK CHIN Alaraph ‘Ritus des Herzschlags’ (US Premiere)
HENRI VIEUXTEMPS Violin Concerto No. 5

>  Further information on Work: Alaraph ‘Ritus des Herzschlags’

Photo: Priska Ketterer

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