Human Archipelago uses the concerto format to stage a series of precarious encounters among the soloist, the orchestra, and the “travelers,” a group of performers who play only by ear. The first movement, “Scenes in Free Fall,” sets a single melody in a series of unstable environments; the next, “Xenia,” imagines a blessed visit from strangers; and the last, “Being one of many,” builds a fugue-like collective polyphony before giving way to a coda where the soloist and travelers unite.
This piece was born of our evolving relationship to two urgent, entangled global phenomena: climate change and mass migration. It is my hope that the music might offer an opportunity to reflect on our ethical responsibilities to our fellow human beings in the present and future — indeed to rethink our very notion of “us.”
I am grateful to Inbal Segev for initiating this project and believing in my work; to Teju Cole and Peter Sellars, who helped me feel my way through the ideas; and to all of the performers for embodying the music with virtuosity and grace.
New York City
December 17, 2022
Royal Festival Hall
Inbal Segev, cello · Conductor: Edward Gardner · London Philharmonic Orchestra