Tomorrow, the University of Sydney’s Wind Symphony will present Cameron Lam’s Yggdrasil: The World Tree concerto for contrabass clarinet and wind symphony.
Yggdrasil was born in the void, between world worlds of fire and ice…
From the composer…
This concerto based on Norse myth of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, which connects the nine worlds of Norse cosmology. It plays host to many of the great myths of this culture such as the hanging of Odin and Loki’s betrayal of the Frost giants. Here though, I’ve chosen to look at things on a larger scale – the creation and destruction (Ragnarok) of the worlds with which Yggdrasil is tied.
The work splits the ensemble into three parts – Yggdrasil (our contrabass clarinet soloist), Fire: the primordial world of Chaos (woodwinds) and Ice: the primordial world of Stasis (brass). Through combinations of these elements we see the stories of Yggdrasil unfold; the birth of the giant Ash tree Yggdrasil, Rattatosk the squirrel running up and down its trunk spreading nasty rumours the eagle who lives in the canopy and the serpent who lives at the roots, the ancient Norns (fates) tending to the Well of Destiny from which Yggdrasil’s roots drink. These stories culminate in the ultimate cataclysm, Ragnarok literally “Twilight of the Gods”, and Yggdrasil’s rebirth from the ashes of that destruction, marking the beginning of a new world.
The stories of Yggdrasil have echoes throughout array of modern fantasy literature from Dungeons & Dragons to The Alchemyst series by Michael Scott to the Marvel Universe (Thor).
This is the first Australian concerto for contrabass clarinet and wind symphony, and as best as my research can tell the first one worldwide. It is the fifth in a series of clarinet-based works written for Susan Newsome and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, all about trees. Other entries are Jacaranda for bass clarinet duo and piano, and Eucalyptus: Genetic Dances for clarinet quartet. The series is called Arboretum.
Yggdrasil is currently being recomposed for contrabass clarinet and symphony orchestra (another world first, I believe) in anticipation of 2018 orchestral premiere.
Visit the University of Sydney website to learn more about this event at the conservatorium tomorrow!
Cameron Lam (born 1989) is artistic director of Kammerklang, a Sydney-based new music and hybrid-art production company, Art Music Specialist at APRA AMCOS, and a freelance composer.
His compositional experience has always been based in practical work and experimentation. He is an avid dabbler and appreciator of the various arts, having completed his honours in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and currently studying dance and static trapeze at B&B Studios in Marrickville.
Cameron has had the pleasure of working with and writing for many of Australia’s leading musicians such as acclaimed percussionist Claire Edwardes (The Colour of Woods), contemporary vocal ensemble Halcyon (Orphic Hymn #9: Selene), the internationally renowned Nexas Saxophone Quartet (Interweave), and YouTuber and EWI-ist Peter Smith aka Soundole VGM Covers (Daemon: The Pride of Difference).
2016 has seen Cameron take on his first projects as a videogame music composer and the release of his third album, Cybermemories – an entire album of music for the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) with long-time collaborator Peter Smith.