Nine Rivers Works

Part I (Leukosis)

East 11th St NY 10008 (1982) 19'
Percussion (six players)
“through the wild splash and the surging of the tides.
Last winter, deaf as a child’s dark night,
I ran and ran! And the drifting peninsulas
Have never known such conquering delight.”

L'ECRAN parfum (1988) c.10'
Six Violins and Percussion (3 players)
"Lulled by storms I drifted seaward from sleep"

Viriditas (1993-94) 17'
Sixteen Solo Voices (4 S, 4 A, 4 T, 4 B)
"I dreamed of green nights and glittering"

La femme invisible (1989) c.16'
Fl(Picc), A-fl(B-fl), Ob, Ca(Ob), Cl, B-cl, 2S-sax(II=A-sax), Pf, Perc (3 players)
"I remained like a woman kneeling . . ."

Part II [ Iosis ]

La coupure (c. 1989 - 2000) 60'
Percussion (1 player) and live electronics
"I watched the lightning tear the sky apart"

Part III [ Melanosis ]

L'oeuvre au noir (1990) 11'
B-fl(A-fl & Picc & Tgl), Bsn(Cbsn & Crotales), T-B-tbn, B-tbn, H-(Sleigh Bells), Perc(2 players), 2Vc(I=Rainstick, II=Crotales), Db(Sleigh Bells) and live electronics
"I have seen a low-lying sun stained with secret horrors Lightning stained with congealed violet"

éileadh sguaibe (1990) 12'
2Hn, 2Tpt, T-B-tbn, B-tbn, Tba, Perc(2 players) and live electronics
"Eternal weaver of unmoving blues"

Introitus (1989-90) 28'
6Vln, 2Vla, 2Vc, 2Db, Tape and Live Electronics
"Feverish skies where I was free to roam

Oceanos (c. 1985 - 1996) 22'
16 Voices, 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Cl, 2 Sax, 2 Bsn, 2 Hn, 2 Tpt, 2 Tbn, Tba, 6 Perc, Pf, Hp, 6 Vln, 2 Vla, 2 Vc, 2 Db and Live electronics
"Of all the waters of Europe - I only want
The black, cold puddle where, in the perfumed dusk;
A child full of sadness squats down to launch
A boat frail as a butterfly in May"


James Dillon's Nine Rivers

Nine Rivers is a cycle of nine works interlinked by a series of ‘tropes’ to create a vast musical environment with an overall duration of around three and a half hours. Dillon began work on the cycle in 1982 and completed it in 1999, and it has since been described as "one of the most significant achievements in British music in the last quarter century".

The world premiere performance of the work as a whole, an ambitious artistic collaboration between Glasgow Life and the BBC, took place in November 2010 in Glasgow, given by the combined forces of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, Strasbourg Percussion Ensemble, the renowned percussionist and conductor Steven Schick, and the Australian conductor Jessica Cottis.

The work was then awarded the Large-Scale Composition prize by the Royal Philharmonic Society in their annual awards, making James Dillon the most celebrated winner in RPS Music Awards history. In their comments on the work, the judges remarked that “this was an epic conceptual journey, two decades in the making, and an important personal voyage for its composer.”

"The systematic derangement of the senses..." (Rimbaud)

Dillon writes: "For a long time I was fascinated by Rimbaud’s strange poem 'Le Bateau Ivre' with its images of the freed boat crashing through rivers towards the ocean and somehow the memory of this work attached itself to this project..." 

Read on for the full synopsis and programme note or find more information about the individual works in Nine Rivers by clicking on the details on the left of this page.

Sound clips / Score samples

Listen | East 11th St NY 10003 |

Listen | l'oeuvre au noir |

Listen | La Femme Invisible |

Listen | Oceanos |  

Set up for Introitus


La Femme Invisible




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James Dillon Biography

James Dillon was born in Glasgow on 29 October 1950, and his music has been published by Peters Edition since 1982. He is closely associated with a number of the world’s leading contemporary music ensembles. 

Dillon is the unique recipient of four Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, and his Fourth String Quartet was praised by the RPS for its "imperishable musical values and active awareness of the tradition of string-quartet [...] a reminder that Dillon has made one of the most distinctive contributions to the music of our time". more...

Reviews of the Premiere performance:
Guardian 5*
Herald Scotland 5*
The Scotsman




| Terms & Conditions | Publishing Services | The Hinrichsen Foundation | Vacancies
 Peters Edition Ltd   2-6 Baches Street    London N1 6DN    Registered Company  337746    VAT Reg. 232 247882    Powered By PRIAM



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