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Against a red background, a man in a dark jacket and shirt looks out of frame. His face is illuminated by a light from above.

The Origin of Colour

5 Sep 2023

News Story

Our Associate Composer Jay Capperauld's new work, The Origin of Colour, takes centre stage this autumn as we kick off our 50th Anniversary Season. This exciting composition recieves its official world premiere as part of the Orchestra's celebratory Grand Tour of Scotland as well as providing the focus for our Immerseschools concerts in Glasgow, Perth and Galashiels.

The Origin of Colour takes its inspiration from a short story in Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics series (below) called Without Colours, which tells a surrealist tale of the creation of colour on Earth. In the beginning, the world exists in whites and greys where objects and people are shapeless entities bumping into each other in translucent static hues.

Suddenly a meteor rips through the sky illuminating the world for the first time highlighting purple chasms and orange mountains; earthquakes emit blue fluids to form the first oceans; the violet Sun sets for the first time; the first black night reveals the stars; newly formed pink clouds release golden lightning; post-storm rainbows are born and now the world is full of blue skies, yellow fish, green trees and red fires.

Calvino’s story is, above all, a love story between two characters who find and lose each other in the chaos of the Earth’s formation of colour. The dazzling quality of these new colours leaves one particular character in fear of this new world, and they decide to hide in a cave where colour did not reach. One final earthquake collapses the entrance to the cave leaving them isolated from their lover and the colourful new world on the other side.

Jay's new work is a real showpiece for chamber orchestra and attempts to capture Calvino’s creation story in a musical journey that maps the creation of colour on Earth from the hollow, translucent landscape described by Calvino to a kaleidoscopically vibrant world which is both beautiful and terrifying in equal measure.

Kirsty Matheson

Visual artist and musician Kirsty Matheson, who will co-present our Immerse concerts alongside Jay Capperauld, has created a series of paintings inspired by The Origin of Colour (below) and these will be introduced and used as a source of inspiration at the concert. The Immerse concerts also celebrate the work of composers who have synaesthesia, a condition where individuals see colour when they hear sound.

9 Sep | Glasgow Royal Concert Hall New Auditorium
20 Sep | Perth Concert Hall
21 Sep | Scottish Borders Galashiels Volunteer Hall

Maxim's 'Eroica': A Grand Tour of Scotland
27 Sep | Perth Concert Hall
28 Sep | Edinburgh, Usher Hall
29 Sep | Glasgow, City halls
3 Oct | Stirling Castle
4 Oct | Ayr Town Hall
6 Oct | Craigmillar Community Concert
7 Oct | Aberdeen Music Hall

Jay Capperauld's The Origin of Colour was commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with generous support from the Vaughan Williams Foundation.

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