Vic Hoyland

Forming, Submerging, Flames, Air: A Musical Architecture For Vic Hoyland’s “Phoenix”

By Michael Hooper, 2011

Marco Polo describes a bridge, stone by stone.
‘But which is the stone that supports the bridge?’
Kublai Khan asks.
‘The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,’ Marco
answers, ‘but by the line of the arch that they form.’
Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds:
‘Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me.’ Polo answers: ‘Without those stones there is no arch.’

Calvino, Invisible Cities

In January 2009 the third part of a triptych of orchestral compositions by Vic Hoyland was performed by the BBC Cymphony Orchestra. Each of its constituent compositions relates to a particular city: Vixen to Palermo, Qibti to Alexandria, and Phoenix to Venice. This article seeks a positive heuristics and proposes a reading of Phoenix that contemplates some of the ways in which freeing Hoyland’s recent music from old arguments and discourses reveals music that is responsive to contemporary thought, fascinating, virtuosically idiosyncratic, and which presents new challenges for musical design.

Article available at Cambridge University Press - Tempo 65 (255) 18-30 2011 Cambridge University Press, Doi:10.1017 / S0040)